This past weekend brought an eclectic group of recruits to Stanford for visits. A pair of commits came to campus, one for his official visit while another took an unofficial trip. Uncommitted players came as well - some holding scholarship offers, and others still hopeful to attain theirs. Positions represented by the group ranged from wide receiver to safety... from offensive line to quarterback... from linebacker to running back. Players traveled from geographies all over the country - from Illinois to New Jersey to Washington to Texas.
But a surprise visitor was a 6'4" man from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Zach Nolan comes to the Cardinal for neither offense nor defense, and he does so without the promise or hope of a scholarship before Signing Day
"Zach is a senior, of course, and captain for us," begins Pine Crest School head coach Jim Pletcher. "He's six-four and 245 and played offensive line and defensive line for us. But his real strong suit is his long snapping."
"Zach is one of the top rated long snappers in the Southeast," Pletcher continues. "He was Honorable Mention All-County and played the Broward County small schools All-Star Game. But his niche in college football is going to be as a long snapper."
Pletcher says that Stanford found Nolan as a junior during spring recruiting last May, when Cardinal recruiting coordinator and Florida area recruiter Nate Hackett scoured the Sunshine State. The first-year Pine Crest School head coach also has ties to the Cardinal coaching staff through Tom Quinn, dating to three years (1992-94) they coached together at James Madison (Pletcher coached in college for 30 years before coming to Pine Crest). The big step, however, came when Nolan attended the Cardinal's overnight camp in late June.
"Stanford had the pleasure of having him at their camp this last year," Pletcher reports. "I thought they did a real good job with him. At most camps you don't get worked out at all snapping, but Stanford really treated him as a long snapper."
It helps that the Cardinal's recruiting coordinator is also the team's specialists coach and a former long snapper during his college days. The relationship between Hackett and Nolan helped to look in the snapper recruit early, despite advances from other suitors.
"Schools like Duke, Florida State and Vanderbilt were looking at him, but he has been hoping to go to Stanford," Nolan's coach comments. "He was out at Stanford this weekend, but I think he has known long before that... He's really excited about going to Stanford and being a Cardinal."
The clinching event in Nolan's recruitment came in December, when Pletcher says that his senior student-athlete was accepted to Stanford. Nolan had just before then made the cross-country trip for an unofficial visit to watch the Cardinal play in November.
It seems like just yesterday that Stanford brought in Brent Newhouse to long snap. Initially a walk-on, the Southern California snapper was put on scholarship last year. Believe it or not, Newhouse is entering his fourth year on The Farm. Nolan is ostensibly the heir apparent to Newhouse and will similarly start his path walking on at Stanford, though Nolan brings a different physical presence to the beginning of that journey
"Zach has a great frame on him," Pletcher reports. "He's put on 15 to 20 pounds already since the end of the season, working in the weight room."
Scout.com has no ratings or recruiting rankings for long snappers, given the paucity of scholarships in college football for the specialist position. We have no video to show you, nor would it likely mean much if you saw it. But one meaningful measurable we can pass on from Pletcher is the snap-to-punt time of his senior standout.
"He's in the range of 0.68 to 0.75 at 15 yards," says the Pine Crest coach. Just what does that mean? .8 seconds is the generally accepted speed at which there is little risk of a block for a long snap. For Nolan to have the mechanics and velocity to hit at 0.7 already as a high school senior underscores his standout ability in his craft.
Zach Nolan will not show up in the press releases and reports on February 1 that detail the Cardinal's 2006 signing class, but his strategic addition to this class is one to be celebrated and will pay dividends for Stanford for years to come.
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