Mount Carmel (Ill.) long snapper Steven Wirtel has no shortage of options when it comes to playing Division I football, but there is plenty of sorting out still to do.
Kohl’s Kicking ranks the 6-foot-4 long snapper, who is regarded as one of the elite long snappers in the class, No. 6 among all long snappers in 2016. Wirtel holds offers from the likes of Iowa State, Illinois, Georgia and Wisconsin among others, but those offers vary from an immediate full-ride to a grayshirt.
Writel will begin to sort through those options in January with three official visits to Iowa State (Jan. 15-17), Illinois (Jan. 22-24) and Georgia (Jan. 29-31).
“Those are the three schools that I’m taking officials to,” Wirtel said. “Iowa State is a full scholarship and then Illinois is a grayshirt scholarship and then Georgia is where I come in and [if I] beat the kid out right away I’d be put on full scholarship. If not, when he leaves the following year, because he’ll be a senior this year, then I’ll be put on [scholarship].”
Wirtel, whose brother John is the long snapper at Kansas, is waiting to hear on a scholarship from the Jayhawks, who would have him redshirt before ultimately replacing his brother in 2017. Auburn is still making a decision on potentially offering Wirtel a grayshirt.
For now, his focus is on the three schools he’ll visit this month beginning with Iowa State. The Cyclones, who had a connection with Wirtel from assistant Alex Golesh’s time at Illinois, began contact shortly after Matt Campbell arrived and Wirtel hosted assistant Bryan Gasser for an in-home visit that first week.
"Within a few days Coach Gasser came to my house for an in-home visit and we talked about a potential scholarship and the situation there,” Wirtel said. “Later that week their need for a long snapper became a very big one and they decided to give me the full scholarship right there.”
Iowa State will not return long snappers Jake Rhoads or Tanner Tusha in 2016, making Wirtel a priority for the staff in the coming weeks.
“It makes me very happy because all of the hard work I’ve put in,” Wirtel said of the offer and chance to compete immediately. “Coming into this, that was my No. 1 goal was to get that scholarship and I was able to achieve that. I just want to show them that I want to compete and I want to be part of those players to turn that program around. I’m just ready to compete from the day I step in.”
Wirtel, who began working as a long snapper with his father and brother during elementary school, will major in communications in college. Academics and relationships will be key factors as will feel during his three trips.
“Right when I step on campus, where I feel at home, that will be a big factor,” Wirtel said. “When you get that feeling it helps out a lot.”
As for a decision, Wirtel expects to decide shortly after his third and final trip.
“That week I’m going to plan to make my decision to where I’m going to go,” Wirtel said. “Probably a couple of days before Signing Day [on Feb. 3].”