Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Hunter Bradley: Father Knows Best

Mississippi State starting snapper Hunter Bradley, a talented tight end in high school, was taught snapping by his dad. Little did he know at the time snapping would ultimately be his position in college.

When Hunter was playing high school football he was always one of the best players on his team. His senior year he was selected to's Preseason All-State First Team as the tight end. But an ACL injury in the month of July prior to his senior season resulted in him missing the entire season.

With college recruiters backing off due to the injury, he went from being a likely college signee to looking for a college where he could walk on. Mississippi State was the college he chose.

"I came to Mississippi State as a tight end," said Hunter. "I had always come to camps here when I was growing up. And they showed interest in me as a tight end. After I tore my ACL before my senior year, I had to sit out the year. That hurt me recruiting-wise, so, I decided to come here as a preferred walk-on."

But Hunter's bad luck with injuries continued at Mississippi State.

"I had two more ACL tears in one calendar year," said Hunter. "After my last ACL I knew and (Mississippi State head) Coach (Dan) Mullen knew that I needed to focus on long snapping."

Long snapping had never been the position of choice for Hunter but it was something that his dad taught him as a backup plan, just in case tight end didn't work out.

"My dad (Mike Bradley) was an offensive lineman in college (at Delta State University)," said Hunter. "There was one day in practice when they needed a long snapper so they taught him how to long snap. Ever since I was younger he told me that I needed a backup plan because things might not work out for me. So, he taught me how to long snap. I never liked snapping growing up. I thought it was pointless and I wondered why dad was making me do it."

His opinion of long snapping, however, changed while at Mississippi State.

"I enjoy snapping now," said Hunter.

Up until last season, his Mississippi State long snapping duties mainly consisted of reps in practice.

"I didn't play my freshman and redshirt freshman years," said Hunter. "My first game to play here was against Southern Miss two seasons ago at home. That was my first snap since my junior year of high school. I wound up playing about 6 snaps that entire year and was expecting about the same last year."

But the injury bug hit again, although this time it was to Mississippi State's starting snapper, Winston Chapman. Due to that, Hunter went from being the backup to being the starting snapper.

"When Winston got hurt, I hated it for him because I knew the pain he was going through having to sit out his senior year," said Hunter. "(But due to his injury) I got my opportunity and I felt like I had a pretty good season."

He expects last season's play to help his game this season.

"The biggest thing that I got from playing last year was my confidence," said Hunter. "Toward the end of the season I got my confidence. And I carried it into the spring."

He also gives credit to Mississippi State Special Teams Quality Control Coach Chris Boniol for helping his confidence.

"We have Coach Boniol, who has been around the best of the best in every division and the NFL," said Hunter. "Being around him really helps you build your confidence up. He gets it because he was also a specialist."

While his game experience was invaluable to him, Hunter also knows that nothing helps your game more than reps, a lot of reps. So, he and the other snappers and kickers and punters worked out several times a week during the summer honing their skill.

"During the summer, if the (team) had skills and drills around four, then we (specialists) would come out around 3:15 and we would do our own thing," said Hunter. "We would do a little short snap circuit, then we would do a little punt circuit, moving the ball around, trying to make it similar to a game like situation. We would do that 45 minutes three or four times a week."

You can see Hunter and his teammates in action September 3rd when Mississippi State hosts South Alabama in the first game of the season.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network.

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