Class of 2020 Preview: Incoming UW Special-Teamer Green Guided by Precision
Former Washington punter Joel Whitford used to say that a long snapper is at his best when he's known for being unknown. When fans go thumbing through their programs to see who snapped the ball, that's a bad day.
"I was lucky to have one long snapper during my time at Washington -- A.J. Carty," he said.
If the ball was supposed to be snapped to Whitford's right hip for a rollout, rugby-style punt, Carty put the ball there. If it was a directional kick and the ball was to be snapped at the punter's belly button, he put it there, too.
Carty was always on the money and, the better Carty was, the more he lived in anonymity.
And that's where Washington's next long snapper, Jaden Green, hopes to reside, as well.
"People aren't supposed to know the long snapper's name," Whitford said. "If they do, it's usually for bad reasons."
At one of Washington's football camps in 2019, Green's long-snapping abilities stood out to Whitford and the Washington staff. The Huskies offered him in early November and he committed soon after.
During his official visit that December, he crossed paths with Whitford.
"We exchanged phone numbers and I told him that if I was ever in Arizona that I'd be happy to work out with him," Whitford said.
When Green was a sophomore skill-position player at Mesa High School in Arizona, his dad encouraged him to try out for the position.
"I was like, 'Nah,' " he told his father. "On offense, I was a running back and wide receiver. I played everywhere on defense, and, on special teams, I was a gunner."
As a senior, Green even took snaps at quarterback.
His dad took him to workouts with long-snapping guru Ben Bernard. The first few weeks working with Bernard did little to sway Green. He was having way too much fun on the field -- all over the field. But his dad kept taking him to the workouts and he changed his mind
"A couple of months into it and I started passing up guys that had been doing it for years," Green said.
He realized that his newfound skill might take him places that his 4.6 40-yard dash would not.
"I started to see that this might be a path to a D-1 scholarship," Green said.
As a long snapper in high school, he realized he could be on the field for every play of the game. In fact, on punts, Green could be a secret weapon.
"In high school and college, a long snapper can't be touched until his head is up after the snap," Green said. "So I essentially become an extra gunner on punts."
He relishes the opportunity to help out on punt coverage because he loves football contact.
"After scoring a touchdown, I would go and snap for the extra point," he said. "Then I went to help with kickoff coverage."
In seven games, Green scored six of his team's 34 offensive touchdowns (four rushing and two receiving). He also attempted four passes and returned an interception return 88 yards.
"After the first game of my senior year, I got moved to just playing on offense because I hit a guy too hard," he said.
Green's Mesa's Jackrabbits averaged just under 30 points per game in 2019. They also punted 49 times, which gave him ample opportunity to hone his craft. He earned a spot in the Under Armour All-American game. He ranks among the top five at that position in the country.
During pandemic down time, Whitford visited some of the western states, including Arizona. In early May, the ex-UW punter checked in with Green to see if he was available for a visit.
Given the uncertainty surrounding professional football, Whitford is in limbo. He's ready for the NFL or CFL and disciplined in his workouts.
"I keep punting whenever possible," Whitford said.
Green was more than happy to assist with that. Here was someone who hadn't graduated from high school helping an All-Pac-12 honorable-mention punter get ready for the next level.
"I didn't want to overthink the situation too much," Green said. "I just thought of him as another guy who I was snapping to."
Green didn't put any over Whitford's head, impressing the punter.
"His speed and accuracy are impressive for someone so young," Whitford said. "That's very important to a punter."
Most snaps were perfect. One stood out to them both.
"There was one where, instead of being on my right hip, it was slightly toward the middle," Whitford said. "He was upset with himself. He's so driven by precision that he took the minor miscue personally."
The punter noted that Green quickly moved on and went back to firing lasers, and might have impressed him more than the snapper's velocity.
Green showed Whitford that he's ready to be the Huskies' next long snapper.
Yet what if the UW needs him to carry the ball or catch a pass?
"Oh, I'm ready," he said.
If not, he intends to live in anonymity.