Scout rated Daly the No. 1 long snapper in the country in 2011, and he arrived at Notre Dame from Downers Grove (Ill.) South High School in the summer of 2012.
His first scholarship offer came from Northwestern. Other schools Daly considered before choosing the Irish included Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan State.
Daly preserved a year of eligibility as a freshman in 2012, prepping behind Jordan Cowart. He moved into the starting lineup as the long snapper for punts and placekicks in ’13 and was credited with a solo tackle against Michigan State and a shared stop versus BYU.
Notre Dame’s kicking operation came to the forefront in 2014 when mishandled snaps in the rain against Stanford in early October and down the stretch in November prompted changes in personnel, although Daly remained the long snapper.
Daly goes back to playing the role of anonymous long-snapper and his name is only mentioned during broadcasts when the announcers acknowledge the fine work the kicking operations team has done over time. The less you hear Daly’s name, the better job he’s doing.
With two years of eligibility remaining, two years starting under his belt, and his successor -- recent verbal commitment John Shannon -- not arriving until 2016, the job belongs to Daly. The only other long snapper on the current roster is walk-on Hunter Smith, the deposed holder for placekicks.
Over the last 20 years, the trend has gone from offensive linemen serving as long snappers to long-snapping specialists such as Jordan Cowart and Daly. Irish offensive linemen who snapped in the 1990s and 2000s included Lance Johnson, Mark Zataveski, Ryan Leahy and Jon Spickelmier, along with tight end Dan O’Leary. Specialist John Crowther long-snapped in 2001-02, followed by center Scott Raridon in 2003-04.
The most well known Irish long-snapper is J.J. Jansen, who signed as a free agent with Green Bay in 2008 and was traded to Carolina, where he’s still long-snapping after eight years in the NFL. He was a Pro Bowl choice in 2014.
All long snappers are ranked as two-star prospects. Most go through their careers anonymously. That wasn’t the case for Notre Dame’s place-kicking operations team last year, from Daly the long snapper to holders Hunter Smith and Malik Zaire to kicker Kyle Brindza.
Obviously, the majority of Daly’s work was successful. Kyle Brindza converted 51-of-52 extra points. None of Brindza’s 51 punts were blocked or mishandled.
“I never in my wildest dreams felt I would be playing football for Notre Dame. I was all baseball until I found my niche in long snapping my sophomore year…(Long snappers) are definitely different than everybody else getting recruited as we have a hidden talent.”
-- Scott Daly