Perfect Player

When West Virginia's placekicking or punting units come onto the field against Florida State in the Gator Bowl, look for No. 94. He'll be right over the football.

Do that, and you'll be watching arguably the best long snapper in the nation. It has gone unnoticed, but Scott Fleming has exorcized years of WVU snapping frustration, morphing it into an afterthought.

Fleming has never had a bad snap in his four-year career.

"Well, I've never had an uncatchable snap," Fleming says. "I've had some that were a little off. I don't really know how to explain it. I just do it and it seems to work out for me."

And for West Virginia. Fleming has had the ball in his hands at the start of more scoring plays than any other current Mountaineer, and maybe more than any in history.

"Having that is something you really appreciate more than people realize," placekicker Brad Cooper said. "A lot of the times he does not get the admiration if we hit a kick. It is overlooked, him and the holder both. To not have to worry about that and just focus on what you have to do, it is a blessing to have. To have a guy that consistent on the team is what you look for in a snapper."

West Virginia's 19 field goals, 43 extra points and 54 punts give Fleming 116 snaps this season, (more if one counts the re-kick against Maryland and others that drew flags). He has made every one, not just this season but for his career.

The disaster that is a bad punt makes the accomplishment even greater. It might not seem difficult to snap a ball seven to 15 yards. It's not, really. But Fleming has to do it in less than 0.8 seconds, accurately, in a spiral, then block oncoming defenders – 116 times.

Despite doing all this, despite being the Mountaineers' only perfect player, Fleming has never seen his name in a game story headline.

"I get respect from the players," Fleming said. "But you're going to have to take a little bit (of miscellany). It comes with the position."

Fleming has snapped every one of Brad Cooper's 80 consecutive point-after-touchdown's and his 54-yard field goal, the second-longest in school history. Fleming earned the Scott Shirley award as WVU Special Teams Player of the Year.

"We are lucky enough to have two guys whose only job is to hold and snap," Cooper said of Fleming and George Shehl, who have started 84 games, the second-longest streak in the nation.

"Some schools use a backup quarterback or wide receiver or something. To be able to focus on that and spend time with the kickers, that is a great, great asset to me and the team."

No matter the result of the Gator Bowl, there's one player that West Virginia fans should acknowldege as he heads off the field. In fact, he deserves a standing ovation. It's old reliable number 94, who may have done his job better than any other Mountaineer in history.

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