Cougar special teams will be in good hands in 2017, says Gravelle, when asked about his heir-apparent.
“Celli is a great snapper. He’s big, athletic and I think he will be the starter,” said Gravelle, who has held down the job for the last 26 Cougar games but Friday announced that he had accepted a scholarship to play his fifth and final college season at TCU.
Gravelle believes the only piece of the snapping puzzle Celli lacks is the experience of performing while surrounded by large and vocal crowds.
“Kyle hasn't played live, so he needs to be mentally ready in front of thousands of people. With snapping, it’s 90 percent mental,” said Gravelle, who walked on at WSU in January 2015 from Erie Community College.
The Niagara Falls, NY, native wanted to stay in crimson for 2017 but without a scholarship available, he opted to put himself on the market and said TCU (whose special teams coach is former WSU assistant Eric Russell) had one for him.
The 6-1, 238-pound Celli, meanwhile, is entering his third season with the Cougars. He walked on after earning all-league honors in both football and baseball at Seattle’s Bishop Blanchet High. WSU special teams coach Eric Mele told CF.C earlier this month that Celli “is more than capable. I think the transition to long snapper for him will be pretty seamless. We still have to tighten up his short snapping."
Celli won't have long to wait for his shot at prime time. The Cougs open spring practices on Thursday.
Asked what advice he would pass on to Celli, Gravelle was succinct: “Be a leader of the younger snappers. Be confident, help them out, because you will learn while doing so. Believe in yourself.”
He adds, “If he gains some confidence and prepares mentally for what is ahead of him he will be flawless. He’s an athlete — you can't beat an athlete snapping!”
Those younger snappers Gravelle is referring to are:
- Jack Haney, a 6-1, 226-pound second-year freshman form Granite Bay, Calif., who walked on this past fall. Chris Sailer, the personal coach who runs a special teams academy, says Haney is athletic and "can flat out move downfield and he shows great aggression. Built well and he is strong. Great power in his hands. Love to see him lock down his spiral and use more of his legs. Both will increase the speed of the ball … excellent upside.”
- Matthew Allen, a 6-0, 220-pound incoming freshman out of Redmond, Oregon, will arrive in Pullman this summer as a preferred walk on. WSU legend Drew Bledsoe, who coaches high school ball in Oregon, said of Allen in a Portland Oregonian story, "I know what an NFL long snapper looks like. I've never seen one that looks like that in high school before watching that kid.”
AS FOR GRAVELLE, he will graduate from WSU in May and then head to Fort Worth. “I want to say that I know I was in a position where a lot of people didn't notice me," he told CF.C. "But I loved all the support for our team and I wouldn't change a thing. I've made memories that will last a lifetime! Outside of football I met the love of my life and loved the community. Once a Coug , Always a Coug!”
THE PRIDE OF BISHOP BLANCHET HIGH SCHOOL: KYLE CELLI ...