John Shannon made the trek to Dublin, Ohio, last weekend for the Top Gun Camp with a single goal in mind.
Pretty much the entire offseason had been geared toward Top Gun, where two spots in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl were on the line for the best long snappers in the country. The Irish commitment coveted the opportunity to compete for the trip to San Antonio this winter.
“It was a lot of competition,” Shannon said. “There were two spots on the line. It was a two-day camp with a lot of competition. For long snappers it was a lot of charting, timing your snaps and the location of your snaps. It was a lot of that. Not a lot of instruction because it was more of a competitive camp.”
Camp organizer Chris Rubio, a nationally known long snapping coach, put participants to the test on the first day.
Shannon ended up in a head-to-head competition with Johnny Den Bleyker, a UCLA commitment. Rubio rates Den Bleyker the No. 1 long snapper in the country for the Class of 2016. Shannon slots at No. 2.
But it was Shannon that came out on top in the competition, punching his ticket to the Army Bowl. Shannon has been watching the game for years and has an appreciation for it.
“It’s really special knowing that I’m gonna be playing in such a prestigious game,” he said. “So many great players have played in it. It’s something my family is really excited about. It’s just a really big honor. Every high school kid wants to play in that game.”
Shannon joins fellow Notre Dame commitments Tommy Kraemer and Tony Jones Jr. on the Army Bowl roster. Although it’s months away, he’s already relishing the idea of representing the Irish on a national stage.
“January feels like it’s years away but it’ll be here before I know it,” Shannon said. “I’ve gotta get through the season and finish senior year on a good note. But I’m definitely looking forward to it and meeting up with the other guys.”
With that goal checked off the list, Shannon turns his attention back to preparation for the coming season.
Shannon not only long snaps at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Ill., he also plays linebacker. Right now the team is in helmets and shoulder pads for summer workouts. Camp to begin preparing for the season commences in early August.
“They’ve got a bunch of returning starters,” Shannon said. “Expectations are going to be really high and I’m looking forward to seeing them play.”