Cougs play host to deep snapper specialist

HOW VALUED ARE long snappers? Plenty. Despite scholarship limits, college football has trended towards more specialization and one of the newer trends for schools is offering a scholie to a player who -- exclusively -- snaps the ball. Washington State had in for an official visit this weekend one such deep snapping specialist, and he had rave reviews for all things Wazzu.

Time was a coach would just grab all the tight ends and linemen and find out who could also snap. But the difference between winning and losing is often found in special teams and turnovers, and poor snaps resulting in blocks can quickly change momentum.

The Cougs have offered a junior college player for this class who does not project at another position -- he's a long snapper pure and simple. Zac Taylor has been practicing the art of long snapping for more than half his life.

"Washington State is looking at me for long snapping...I'm just a straight long snapper," said Taylor.

Specialization or no, a player has to be pretty special to earn a scholarship exclusively for his skills in snapping the ball. According to Blinn College coach Brad Franchione, Taylor is all that and more.

"He's the best long-snapper I have ever seen and he's a great football player," Franchione told earlier this year.

TAYLOR SAID one of the bigger highlights of his weekend on the Palouse was how he bonded with the Cougar staff, including special teams coach David Walkosky.

"The coaches were real nice, especially the special teams coordinator. He got real close to me," said Taylor. "...Walkosky is real outgoing and he was real nice to me. He's really committed to me and he wants me to come in there and play for him.

"I liked the campus, I liked the coaches, I had a great time. I got along with a lot of people and I liked the academics. It was just a great time...I thought it was such a great opportunity to go out and visit colleges like Washington State. I thought it was awesome."

WASHINGTON STATE is his first offer but Taylor's stock has been rising with a number of other schools for some time, he said. Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State are only a few of those in the mix.

"I also have a coach setting me up with LSU but we'll see how far that goes. The Beavers...Oregon State is all over me. And I think (the coaches are) setting me up on a Florida State trip," said Taylor. "Oklahoma State, the coach came down and they (could be close)....Everything (other visits) is in the works at this point right now."

As much as he thoroughly enjoyed the WSU trip, Taylor also said a final decision might be later rather than sooner. He doesn't have firm dates on other trips, but plans to in the near future.

"I would like to take all my visits first. Right now, everything is going good. Washington State, that's a good school. But I have four visits left so I want to use those and decide after those," said Taylor, who is scheduled to graduate in May and would have 3-to-play-2 at the next level.

TAYLOR HAS BEEN working on his long snapping since, incredibly, his Pop Warner days.

One day as a young tyke, he started snapping for no particular reason and his father, watching at the time, was impressed. From that day on, his dad encouraged him to stick with it. Through middle school and high school, Taylor continued to practice day in and day out.

He was pretty good by the time he was in high school, and had plenty of natural talent, but he took it to another level after getting some helpful coaching around the time he arrived at Blinn.

"It's a very important job,' said Taylor. "...My senior year (in high school), I didn't have one bad snap and here at Blinn, I have not had one bad snap since I've gotten here. They've all been straight and on target...I realized when I was younger, 'Man oh man. That's my position. That's my talent.

"The man who really taught me how to long snap is Chris Rubio," said Taylor. "...I went to Ray Guy's camp also, but Rubio is the man. He pretty much changed, my freshman year in college, he pretty much changed my whole thing and made me better."

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