Being the long snapper for punts and field goals for a college football team must be a pretty easy gig, right?
You run out onto the field maybe 10 or 12 times a game depending on how good or bad a day the offense is having. You bend over, grip the ball with both hands, fire it back between your legs, block a little, maybe run downfield, then go back to the bench until the next time you’re needed.
Actually, it’s not quite that simple. For one thing, the only time you get your name in the paper is when you mess up.
And it’s not something you just walk out and do without investing tons of practice time.
Iowa Hawkeyes long snapper Casey Kreiter has been doing it for more than a decade, and he guesses he probably still snaps the ball hundreds of times a week, constantly tweaking and working toward perfection.
“You get a lot of muscle memory, but there’s always stuff to work on,” the former Central DeWitt athlete said as the Hawkeyes began their fall camp.
In truth, Kreiter doesn’t even know how many times a day he does what he does.
“I would say they’re countless,” he said. “There is so much stuff to work on, and I’m just trying to get better, and reps are really the only way to improve that.
“I think I counted last year’s snaps on camera for camp and it was 303 …” he added. “That was just summer camp going into the season.”
Kreiter began doing this before he was even in junior high. He was introduced to long snapping by his father, Kurt, who was then Central DeWitt’s football coach and is now the school’s athletic director.
“He did it (as a player) at Augustana and he knew the value of it, and it just kind of caught on with me,” Kreiter said. “From then on it just kind of worked out.”
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound junior is now firmly entrenched as the long snapper with the Hawkeyes. He was rushed into action as a redshirt freshman in the fourth quarter of a 2010 game at Minnesota when Andrew Schulze got hurt and he became the regular last season.
Kreiter handled every snap last fall and is in his second year on the team’s leadership council. He has the full confidence of coach Kirk Ferentz, who refers to him as “an excellent deep snapper.”
While the Iowa roster now lists his only position as “LS,” Kreiter isn’t entirely opposed to getting onto the field in some other capacity. He was a pretty good tight end and defensive lineman in high school.
“If those opportunities arise and the coaches approached me about it, I would be willing to help the team in any way,” he said.
“But my position right now is so important. If I have one screw-up, it’s so apparent and it can really hurt the team. A botched punt when it’s my fault is hard to recover from. So I’ll just focus on my job now, and if they approach me about that, we’ll see what happens.”