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‘This is just the start’: Dan Godsil didn’t start long snapping until his senior year of high school, now he’s off to the NFL

BLOOMINGTON, IN – SEPTEMBER 08, 2018 – long snapper Dan Godsil #97 of the Indiana Hoosiers during the game between the Virginia Cavaliers and the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, IN. Photo By Craig Bisacre/Indiana Athletics

At a football camp hosted by the University of Richmond in 2014, the coaches asked if anyone was able to long snap.

Dan Godsil, a rising high school senior, went to be recruited as a linebacker, but he volunteered. Godsil had never long snapped in a game before.

“The coach there was timing me, and he was really impressed,” Godsil said. “He was like, ‘You can snap anywhere in the country.’”

It was in that moment that Godsil realized his own talent. His size, ability and versatility set him apart from others at the position.

Godsil went on to become the long snapper in his senior year as major conference college programs began to call. Godsil chose IU, and after four years with the Hoosiers he has emerged as one of the best long snappers in the nation. Now Godsil has his sights set on the next step, the NFL.

“You realize all that hard work I’ve done snapping, playing for IU, it’s all paid off,” Godsil said. “This is just the start.”

When Godsil arrived at Ottawa-Glandorf High School in Ottawa, Ohio his coach, Ken Schriner, thought he would be the team’s quarterback. But Godsil struggled and thus became a linebacker, a role where he found success. He thought that would get him to college.

That was all before realizing his potential as long snapper, a role that could get him to a higher level football program.

Godsil stands at 6-foot-4-inches with long arms. Not only does he snap the ball efficiently, but he is able to get down the field to tackle the opposing team’s returner. His experience as a high school linebacker allows him to be a more prolific tackler than other long snappers.

“He’s unique because he’s very athletic,” Schriner said. “I describe him as having the assassin’s mentality.”

While Godsil didn’t think he would be a long snapper growing up, the position is in his genes.

Godsil’s father, David, was a long snapper as well, playing at Ottawa-Glandorf before going on to be the long snapper for the University of Dayton. As his son began to try long snapping, David Godsil became simultaneously a father and a coach. 

“We’d look like a goofy group of people out at Thanksgiving throwing the football around because half the throws go between our legs,” David Godsil said.

Godsil’s coaches have said that his work ethic set him apart from other players on the roster. Holidays didn’t prevent him from learning the position, weather didn’t either.

“When I was just picking it up, me and my dad would just snap out in the front yard,” Dan said. “We would snap every day. If it was snowing outside, we’d go to a big warehouse and snap.”

The time Godsil spent snapping in his yard led him to become the long snapper for Ottawa-Glandorf during his senior season. The scholarship offers began to roll in. After getting a chance to see him snap, IU jumped in on Godsil’s recruitment.

IU special teams coach William Inge played the biggest part in recruiting Godsil to Bloomington. Inge has stuck with the program through a head coaching change, and served as Godsil’s coach in each of his four seasons.

“It’s great to see him grow and learn and really understand,” Inge said “The one thing that Dan is he’s a master of his craft.”

Inge has helped Godsil hone that craft, and become a crucial piece for the Hoosiers during his career. Godsil became the first IU player ever start 50 college games and the 13thplayer in Big Ten history to do so. Inge said he’s been able to accomplish such a feat because of his consistency.

Godsil’s accurate and reliable snaps have been a crucial part in his ability to spend his IU career trying to go unnoticed. The only time Godsil, or any long snapper, gets attention during a game comes with a mistake.

“You have to be absolutely perfect,” said Chris Rubio, the founder of Rubio Long Snapping, a development camp for young long snappers. “I have always said you’ll never see a game winning kick without a game winning snap. There’s 100% more pressure on the long snapper than anything else. He starts the entire play.”

Rubio keys in on developing the speed, accuracy and blocking ability of young long snappers, all crucial traits for the college and professional game. It’s all in an effort to create long snappers that don’t get noticed.

“You’re not going for the glory, you’re not going to do the touchdown dance,” Rubio said. “It’s one of those things hoping that no one ever knows your name.”

As Godsil’s college career comes to an end and he prepares for the NFL, he must change his mindset. Suddenly, Godsil has had to shift his focus from being perfect to go unnoticed to instead doing the same in an effort to do the opposite, to get noticed.

The NFL Combine in Indianapolis is the most important scouting event leading up to the NFL Draft. The top prospects in the nation at each position receive invited to the event to participate in various drills in front of NFL coaches.

“Kids dream about going to the Combine,” Godsil said. “The fact that I actually got to be there is just an amazing feeling.”

The Combine provided Godsil a chance to make his name known. Godsil turned in a record breaking performance, posting the all-time best vertical jump and broad jump scores for a long snapper.

“There are good snappers, there are good blockers and there’s good cover men, but rarely is that all in one,” David Godsil said. “I think Dan sticks out because he’s physically big enough to block. He’s got to work on his footwork for the NFL, but he can cover and he can snap so I think that’s how he stuck out.”

It’s a trait that showcased itself at the Senior Bowl in January. The Senior Bowl selects the top college seniors in the nation before splitting them up into two teams, each coached by an NFL staff.

Godsil was selected to be the long snapper for the side coached by the Oakland Raiders. At the Senior Bowl, Godsil was noticed.

After snapping the ball to begin a punt play, Godsil blocked his man, and immediately sprinted down field. He wasn’t able to see the ball booted into the air, instead he kept his eyes locked on the returner, former Clemson wide receiver Hunter Renfrow.

Godsil beat his teammates down the field, and made the tackle, preventing any return from Renfrow.

“They were rewarding kids for good plays with helmet logos from the Raiders, and they slapped one on his helmet,” David Godsil said. “Most long snappers, if they didn’t play linebacker, aren’t quite able to do that.”

While most NFL teams may keep multiple quarterbacks or wide receivers on the roster in case of injury, every team has just one long snapper. At any one time, there are just 32 NFL long snappers.

The pressure to break into that exclusive group is immense. The stakes are high. Rubio said a quarterback can throw eight touchdowns and two interceptions and be lauded. If a long snapper makes eight perfect snaps and two bad ones, he’s fired.

Despite the pressure, it’s evident how much Godsil is looking forward to his next chapter.

“He’s excited,” Schriner said. “He’s excited how things are going. He was excited with the number of different people he got to meet. The names in the NFL that you see on television, he actually got to shake hands with them after he played in the Senior Bowl.”

A handful of NFL teams have reached out to Godsil in the final weeks before the NFL Draft. His future is now out of his hands. Godsil doesn’t know where he’ll be heading, or even if he’ll be drafted at all. All he wants is a shot.

“Every team already has a long snapper,” Godsil said. “Anywhere I go I’m going to have to compete with the guy, but I just feel confident I can compete with anybody.”

The NFL Draft begins April 25. Soon, Godsil could be shaking hands with NFL stars again, as a teammate.

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