No Detail’s Too Small for Alabama: It Landed the Top Long Snapper, Too

Fletcher will become the second long snapper in Alabama history to be awarded a full scholarship out of high school. The first, Cole Mazza, who will graduate this year, was also the No. 1-rated snapper when Coach Nick Saban offered him an Alabama scholarship in 2012.

Put another way: Alabama’s focus on the littlest details of the game even stretches to the point that, in addition to craving the highest-rated recruits at quarterback, linebacker and running back, Saban has to have the best at a position that might be on the field for only seven or eight plays a game.

If that sounds a little Belichickian, that’s because it is. Saban, after all, worked under Bill Belichick, the famously fastidious N.F.L. coach, from 1991 to 1994, and just last year, Belichick stunned much of the N.F.L. when he selected a long snapper with the New England Patriots’ fifth-round draft pick. (It was just the fourth time that an N.F.L. team had drafted a long snapper, and the player, Joe Cardona, has appeared in every game for the Patriots since his arrival.)


Cole Mazza, right, Alabama’s current long snapper, was the first player at that position to get a full scholarship from Alabama out of high school.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The theory, championed by Belichick and embraced by his disciples (including Saban), is simple: Leave nothing, ever, to chance. And so in an era when strength coaches are sometimes paid as much as head coaches and college recruiting occasionally extends to children who have not yet started high school, it should probably not be a surprise that the old way of finding a long snapper — dig up a walk-on or teach a fourth-stringer how to do it — has been replaced.

“You’re basically buying a reliable car,” said Rubio, a former long snapper at U.C.L.A. who now puts on dozens of snapping…

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