For the most part, if you don’t know a long snapper’s name, that’s a good thing.
Richard McNitzky is just fine with that.
“I embrace the fact that I’m just kind of behind the scenes,” the Stanford commit said.
But McNitzky has had a knack for setting himself apart. He is one of the top long snappers in the nation and was offered a scholarship from the Cardinal, a rarity for someone at that position.
“It’s crazy how it all worked out. It’s an unbelievable opportunity and I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “I wasn’t looking at them at the beginning of the year, I hadn’t had any contact with them at the start of the 2015 season. And they came through and offered me and there was no question in my mind that that was the school I wanted to go to.”
The journey started in eighth grade for McNitzky. He was his team’s center, and the coach’s rule was if you were center, you were also the long snapper.
McNitzky had a knack for it.
The San Antonio-native caught the eye of long snapping guru Doug Conrey, and McNitzky was a featured name at camps for prep long snapping. For a guy who says his second home is the gym, this was a perfect position for him. Not only could he get the ball back with great speed but accuracy as well.
“I’ve had a knack for speed just from weightlifting and repetitive working out so I truly try to put the ball on the right hip if the punter is right-footed so it’s just the quickest range of motion, he doesn’t have to bring the ball over. It’s a tight spiral, I put the ball around the waist and get the ball there in .7 seconds or less is the ideal snap.”
He isn’t just the only special teamer in the 2016 Stanford class though; kicker Jet Toner from Hawaii will be joining him as a scholarship athlete in the 2016 class.
“It is awesome to see them bring in both myself and Jet so we will be able to build up a chemistry throughout the years both as scholarship players so that will help us in game time.”
For the “behind the scenes” snapper who spends every chance he gets either in the gym or perfecting his craft, the Stanford “team” mentality is right up his alley.
“You see the type of positive feedback McCaffrey will give back to his o-linemen and his wide receivers for the blocks, and it seems to be the whole tone of the team - they’re very humble. They like to recognize each other rather than themselves," McNitzky said. "As a unit, that’s huge for special teams because everyone has to fill their lanes and take pride in what they do. They have to do their job and not try to be more than that, and I like that a lot.”
And McNitzky is hoping his recognition and opportunities can lead to the same for long snappers behind him.
“I hope that is able to be mirrored and help this position grow in respect and recognition, and hopefully help some guys beneath me get the exposure because it’s not every day you see a power five program like Stanford offer a scholarship. I’m hoping other schools take notice of that and pay off to help the younger guys in the future.”