You can make the argument of which college touts the best defensive backs in the country. Or wide receivers. Or linebackers. Or any other position.
Alabama is somewhere in the top 5 in most positions.
But now you can go ahead and call Alabama Long Snapper U.
Thomas Fletcher is the latest of top long snappers to come out of Alabama. He could join Carson Tinker (New York Giants) and Cole Mazza (Los Angeles Chargers) as former Crimson Tide snappers to be on an NFL roster. The NFL Draft is April 30 in Cleveland.
Fletcher has gotten plenty of help from Tinker and Mazza with preparation for the NFL.
“When I was a young guy coming through the program, they were there to offer me advice, and give me tips and guidance,” Fletcher said. “To get guidance from those guys who had been there before was fantastic.”
Long snapper isn’t an all-star position, and the chances of making an NFL roster are astronomically small. NFL teams usually don’t carry more than one long snapper, and not all 32 teams are in the market for Fletcher’s position. Still, Fletcher has worked toward earning one of those coveted spots, and there is plenty to learn with the transition from college to the pros.
“The college punt is significantly different from what they do in the NFL,” Fletcher said. “A lot of this preparation has been getting bigger, faster and stronger, getting the steps down and watching film.
Snapping the ball on field goals and extra points even has its own trick.
“The biggest thing I’m working on is matching laces,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know that, when you are snapping the ball at the NFL level, it’s vitally important to have the holder catch it where the laces are facing forward. You don’t want the holder to put it down and have to spin the ball to where the laces are out.”
The Senior Bowl in Mobile back in January was crucial for Fletcher with his NFL special teams education.
The experience of getting back to pro punt, which is the biggest transition a snapper has to make going to the next level, was the biggest thing,” Fletcher said. “We got a crash course on what we will have to do going forward. It was very beneficial for me.”
Fletcher was perfect in his 55 games as a Crimson Tide starter, never having a bad snap on punts, PATs or field goals. The 2020 season saw Alabama collect a treasure trove of trophies for top individual honors. Fletcher was one of them, taking the Patrick Mannelly Award for the nation’s top long snapper.