The most important person on the field at the time is not the kicker. It's not the holder. The snapper holds the fate of the game in his hands; a high or low snap will cost his team the game.
For the Syracuse Orangemen, this key player will not be a heavily touted recruit. He won't even be a scholarship player. Walk-on Dave DeAmato is one of the leading candidates to take over the long snapper position on special teams.
DeAmato first became interested in the position when he learned that there was no clear-cut incumbent for Kwazi Levette, who graduated last year. No fan wants to think about the problems the Orangemen experienced three years ago watching mistake after mistake on special teams.
"I knew that they graduated their long snapper and that would be one of my few chances to get on the field," said DeAmato.
DeAmato first mentioned interest in the team to a friend who knew assistant coach Dennis Goldman. The plan was set in motion and now DeAmato stands a chance of being the second walk-on starter in the past 16 years.
However, the job won't be handed do DeAmato. He's in stiff competition with senior captain Chris Davis for the job. Davis (6-foot 234 pounds) is bigger than DeAmato (5-11, 210) but according to DeAmato, position more than size is what makes or breaks a special teams play.
"I've worked a lot on getting my stance wider," DeAmato said. "I want to have a good base and have to be smarter and use better angles."
Most blocked punts and field goals come as a result of defenders slipping through the cracks of the centers and guards. It's one of the more difficult positions in football due to the amount of tasks in such a short period of time.
"It's pretty quick, you can't really think about it," DeAmato said. "I have three different things to do. I have to snap, block, and then get down the field to make the tackle."
DeAmato will be snapping the ball to punter Mike Shafer who impressed with an average of 42.6 yards on 77 punts.
Collin Barber is the other player of note returning to handle placekicking duties.
"There's always pressure on us but I think I put more pressure on myself than anyone," Barber said. "I'm a perfectionist and I have a lot of things to improve on from last year and that's where I want to be this year."
DeAmato Could Be Focal Point of Special Teams
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