Long-Snapper Life

Carson Tinker may be more of a name because of the tragedy surrounding his personal life while playing at Alabama, but that's because his long-snapping was sharp to the point that many watched Alabama game's without hearing his name. Tinker is okay with that as he sets his sights on the NFL, and he's paved the way for his likely replacement in the meantime.

Three BCS National Championships in four seasons with Alabama is what most of the 2013 senior class focused on as they depart The Capstone. For most on the team, it was an uphill battle to see playing time and then significant playing time. That wasn't necessarily the case for Carson Tinker, who had to wait to get something each of his classmates already had.

A scholarship.

Tinker, who handled both the long and short snaps at Alabama during its latest run, hadn't earned a scholarship until his senior season. It taught him hard work and those values may propel him to the NFL now that his snapping days in Crimson are through.

"It hasn't sunk in, I'm still grinding," he said of his time since the season, which included a trip to the Senior Bowl last month.

In Mobile, Tinker admitted his job was a bit easier than his peers'.

"They had to learn a new offense, defense and a new scheme," he said. "What we ran is the same thing we run at Alabama. I'm really lucky in that aspect.

"Coach [Nick] Saban taught me everything I knew for the last for years, so it's the same thing."

That routine and execution over the years has the senior thinking about the next step. He had a good showing at the Senior Bowl all week and in the game, and he thinks the next step in his life will remain on the gridiron.

"I have a lot of confidence, I feel pretty good," he admitted. "I was able to relax, take a deep breath and just do my job."

The Long-snapper's life is a mental one. You are not called on as much as a defensive lineman or running back, but your moments play a big role in the game of field position, which often leads to wins and losses.

But the worry of big moments when all eyes are on the ball don't rattle Tinker, who has flourished in big games throughout his UA career.

"I don't really think about the pressure or anything like that. I just focus on my job," he maintained. "Like at the SEC Championship (against Georgia), we had to punt to win the game and pin them deep. I wasn't even thinking about the pressure, just focused on doing what I had to do. I can feel it in my hips, I can feel it in my shoulders, it's the right snap – it's a good snap.

"I can only control what I do."

That consistency and control, a pair of must-haves for any long-snapper, helped Tinker earn the eventual scholarship. But his potential replacement now doesn't have to.

Cole Mazza signed with Alabama in two weeks ago as a part of the 25-member class of 2013. He was the only specialist on scholarship.

Mazza was named a Semper Fidelis All-American.

"Cole is a great kid, great snapper," Tinker said of the Bakersfield (Calif.) Liberty High prospect. "I'm proud of him for getting the scholarship. He earned it, he deserved it."

"It speaks a lot for snappers, we are a pretty vital part of a team," he continued. "Just being able to have that snap there every time, the punter and kicker are depending on you.

"I'm proud to say I'm a part of that."

Mazza was rated the top long-snapper at the prep level by FOX Sports NEXT/Scout.com and by specialist guru Chris Rubio, who maintains that the 6-foot-1, 240-pounder may be the best snapper he's ever seen at the high school level.

One could argue that Tinker was the nation's best in 2012, and like Mazza, he's hoping it will help with a smooth transition to the next level of the game.

Said Tinker, "I'm trying to snap at the next level, just went down there to meet all the coaches and scouts to get the exposure. I did my job; I couldn't control what the other guys did. But I controlled what I did.

"We'll see where it takes me."

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