Commitment Impact: A.J. Carty

I'm sure there were a fraction of Washington fans out there incredulous when the news of A.J. Carty's commitment to UW came through. After all, why would anyone need to scholarship a long snapper? Well, the days of finding competent specialists to walk on is nearly over.

What does this mean for Washington's special teams? - I was thinking of also putting up a sub-header called ‘Why was Carty offered in the first place?' but this header should answer both of these questions at once. Simply put, it means new UW Head Coach Chris Petersen is backing up his actions with more action. We all know how he loves to coach up the returners, and it's clear from his organizational details that he places as much importance on special teams as any other unit on the field - in that way he closely resembles Don James, who famously said that special teams is one-third of a football game, and he coached special teams as equal to offense and defense.

James was able to get top walk-ons like Chuck Nelson and Jeff Jaeger to kick for the Huskies back in the day, but it's not 1982 anymore. With tuition at record levels and the inherent segregation that exists between scholarship players and walk-ons within any top program, it's more important than ever for specialists to have their educations paid for. Specialists are nearly always on the sidelines during practices, or practicing in another part of the facility - so there's already plenty of distance put between the specialists and the rest of the team. If they were all walk-ons, that distance would surely widen. At a time when a new staff wants to bring everyone together as a team, it helps the position players to know that the specialists have as much to gain or lose as they do in the bargain.

Add to all of that the razor-thin margins between winning and losing games at the BCS level, a botched snap or hold could mean the difference between a solid campaign or a 10-win season, let alone a head coach keeping his job.

So for Washington fans used to seeing specialists show up as unknown walk-ons in the fall only to become household names when they kick themselves into All-America status, you can put those thoughts into a time capsule with your 1978 Rose Bowl ticket stub because those days are long gone.

Taylor Barton is a former UW quarterback who has made a name for himself as a quarterback guru to high schoolers looking to follow in his footsteps - namely earn a scholarship to a top program and university. Quarterback coaches at the prep level isn't a new phenomenon, but specialized camps for other positions are gaining more traction. Case in point: Chris Sailer Kicking Camps. Sailer, who kicked for UCLA in the late 90's, started his own kicking camps a little over 10 years ago and now has cornered the market on kicking camps throughout the country.

A few years later, Chris Rubio joined forces with Sailer to add long snapping to Sailer's camp, and in the last eight years Rubio has helped get over 150 long snappers scholarshipped into top D1 schools. With more and more prospects being tutored on the idea of specializing in long snapping from an early age, the quality and quantity of long snappers schooled with proper technique before they get to college has grown exponentially. It's not a surprise to find Petersen as one BCS head coach of many who have locked into the idea of getting a rock-solid long snapper for four years for the price of one scholarship.

Tyrone Willingham scholarshipped Danny Morovick for the 2006 season, and the returns Willingham got off that one ride were significant. Morovick took every short and long snap for 49 straight games. Remember Danny Morovick? You probably don't, which would make every top long snapper in America smile. A.J. Carty told Dawgman.com no one remembers a long snapper until they mess up; Morovick never did.

What does Carty's commitment mean for Washington's scholarship numbers? - At 62 right now before the 2014 players enroll for the summer LEAP program. That number includes scholarships for both current long snapper Ryan Masel and safety transfer Brian Clay. With Devin Burleson delaying enrollment to 2015 and Jaimie Bryant already with the team, that means Washington should have up to 23 scholarship offers for this year. Washington is expected to welcome 22 true freshmen on July 5th, basically getting them right up to their limit of 85 scholarship players.

Washington has 16 seniors in 2014, and there are certainly others, like Shaq Thompson and Marcus Peters, that could declare early for the 2015 NFL Draft. Having at least 20 scholarships for 2015 doesn't seem far-fetched at all, considering UW just announced the transfers of Josh Shirley and Taylor Hindy. Point being - attrition takes all shapes and forms. With all the talk of at least one quarterback transferring out after the 2014 season depending on how the numbers shake out of fall camp and who wins the starting spot, you could see more players leaving Montlake starting in January.

The Huskies currently have seven public verbal commitments from 2015 prospects, including Carty. With Tristan Vizcaino, Cameron Van Winkle, Korey Durkee, and Ryan Masel already on scholarship at UW, the chances UW scholarships another specialist in the next couple years is basically nil, unless one or two of the above players leave.

That's another bonus of scholarshipping a specialist; it's typically a four-year commitment so you don't have to usually worry about players leaving early or transferring out. If they are contributors from the start, you can count on them for the duration. It happened with Morovick, and currently with Masel. Masel is a junior in 2014, which means after his senior year Carty will be ready to pick up where he left off for another four-year run. The timing of Carty's offer and acceptance makes sense.

A.J. Carty Long Snapping Film


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