IOWA CITY — Reese Morgan was doing what Reese Morgan always did.
The now retired University of Iowa assistant football coach was making rounds to different high schools in the area and wandered into Williamsburg in December of 2014. He asked Raiders head coach Curt Ritchie if he knew anyone who might be potential long-snapping material for the Hawkeyes, as that’s what they were seeking at the time.
Ritchie told Morgan of one of his kids, a senior named Jackson Subbert.
“(Ritchie) was kind enough to say he had a decent one,” Subbert said. “I ended up sending them some of my game film and stuff to look at. It just kind of went from there.”
It went from Subbert walking on to the Iowa program and eventually settling in as the primary long snapper for punts and field goals. This is the senior’s second season in the role, and he is one of 25 guys named to a national watch list for the Patrick Mannelly Award.
Mannelly played in 245 games as long snapper for the NFL’s Chicago Bears.
“I’ve been snapping for a long time,” Subbert said. “It was kind of something I always did from a pretty young age. I probably can’t give you an exact age. My dad just always said it’s not something that a lot of people practice, and it was something that every team needs. So from a young age, maybe when we were done playing catch or something, he’d have me do it a little bit in the backyard.
“Then in high school was when I paid a little more attention to it and took it more seriously.”
Subbert was a defensive end and tight end at Williamsburg, good enough to play in the 2015 Shrine Bowl. But he likely would have been headed to an American Rivers Conference school to play had Iowa not become interested in him for a position that isn’t glorious by any means and is mostly anonymous.
At least anonymous is how long snappers prefer it.
“If you know my name, generally that’s not a very good thing,” Subbert said. “And I’m perfectly OK with that, OK with flying under the radar and doing whatever I can to help Colten and Keith and Mike and not overly complicating things back there, for sure.”
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Colten is Iowa holder Colten Rastetter, Keith is kicker Keith Duncan, and Mike is punter Michael Sleep-Dalton. Duncan leads the country with 17 field goals this season (in 19 attempts) and has made all 16 of his extra-point tries. Sleep-Dalton is averaging 42 yards a punt, a grad transfer from Arizona State who has upgraded that position. Subbert is the common denominator in what has been a successful kicking game overall.
“Basically, when we are on defense, obviously, we are not going to punt or kick a field goal then, so that’s kind of my time to relax mentally on the field,” Subbert said. “Go get a drink or whatever. Then once the offense gets the ball, that’s when I’m getting loose. I’ll get a couple of practice snaps to Mike, and then from there, it’s about staying loose. Which, as it gets colder, is tougher to do.”
It took Subbert awhile to get on the field. He redshirted as a true freshman, didn’t play at all in the 2016 and 2017 seasons, replacing the graduated Tyler Kluver last season.
Subbert said he got a lot of good advice from Kluver about long snapping and got a couple of tips from Casey Kreiter as well. He’s the former Hawkeye who made the NFL Pro Bowl last season as a member of the Denver Broncos.
“Looking back on it, when I came in, I was definitely not ready to snap the ball in a Big Ten game,” he said. “I think that was pretty clear. (Kluver) was a great long snapper, so we talked about not only the physical part of it, but the mental aspect as well. Just to have another set of eyes on you was huge. I mean, he started for four years and snapped a ton of games, more than anyone in Iowa history.”
Subbert was asked if he misses actually playing a position in which he ... actually plays.
“I do, and I don’t,” he said, with a smile. “It’d honestly be awesome to be out there more than between seven and 10 plays a game. But I really do enjoy long snapping. It’s a tough thing just in itself. I am incredibly happy with where I am right now.”
Comments: (319) 398-8259; firstname.lastname@example.org