Spring Snap

Tim Lindsey is again primed for success at a slot where anything less could mean huge swings in field position – and unwanted attention in the sports pages.

In 2004, the Mountaineers lost snapper Scott Fleming, who, along with George Shehl, erased years of grimacing during special teams for fear of poor snaps and other misadventure. The tandem was perfect, Fleming never missing a snap, Shehl never fumbling a hold – leading to both being largely overlooked and unwritten about. That's typically just fine with those players, and that anonymity continued last season, when Lindsey, then a junior, replaced Fleming and maintained the high level of play.

It was that certain success that allowed West Virginia, for example, to run the fake punt in the Sugar Bowl, for if Lindsey's snaps were flying all over the field like flags were that game, Rich Rodriguez would have had to not only have been gutsy, but perhaps borderline insane to try the trick. And Lindsey, the upperclassmen finally finding the field after a rash of injuries during his career, knows it.

"Once the ball leaves my hands, it is over," said the Bridgeport, W.Va. native. "It is a position with a lot of stress because it is one time and you come down to the last play in the game. Like in the Sugar Bowl, with the fake, if my snap is not there then the play is not there. It comes down to the point where you have to be confident in yourself. I don't even think about it now. I just do it."

Every special teams play besides the kickoff must literally begin with the snap. If that's not there, the No. 1 rated prep players in the world won't matter. It is something that, again this spring, has been largely ignored because it has been handled so well by an upperclassmen with a family tradition of snapping success.

Lindsey, a converted tight end, has made a smooth transition to snapper, where his brother, Donnie, lettered from 1996-99. It has gone so well that place kicker Pat McAfee said that if there are problems "it's not the snap or the hold. It'll be on me."

That might be just team-talk, an unwillingness to critique others. But even head coach Rich Rodriguez said he was pleased and noted how well the snapping was going, no easy task when Lindsey is trying to work with a new holders in Travis McClintic and backup Markell Harrison and a punting position not yet secured.

"Last year we were trying to find out where I would start," Lindsey said. "Now I feel pretty solid at the position and we are just trying to find a good second snapper now. So far, so good, though it is easier coming in with game experience. You can't really emulate that. It is another world. Coming in with that gives you a different way to work to prepare for next year."

Lindsey has some now, but still continues to speak with his brother about all the intangibles that go unnoticed in a position where it appears all one has to do is hike the ball back, though like anything else, there is more to it.

"He taught me initially how to snap," Tim Lindsey said of Donnie. "When he was playing here, I was going through high school. Any time I had problems throughout my snapping career here he has come down and we have worked on stuff. Even to this day I learn from him."

And from Fleming, whose style differed from that of Lindsey, a scout team champion for the Central Florida and Temple games in his career and a first-team all-state player in high school who also played basketball and baseball and ran track.

"You try to learn how he approaches the game and the mentality he takes in," Lindsey said of Fleming, one of the best walk-on special team players of all time. "We are going to have our different styles as far as how we snap. But I try to prepare similarly but add my own style to it. Overall, it's going great this spring even though it is very unsung. You don't notice it until something goes wrong. It is one of the jobs that you get one shot at it."

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