In high school, Fresno State long snapper Dylan Detwiler played center and defensive end and when the Hemet Bulldogs had to punt away the football or got to kick a field goal or an extra point, he was there to fire the football backward between his legs. He never really left the field.
And, yes, he does miss that. The collisions. The competition. Just, really, playing football. He misses that, he said, to a point.
“I see these guys out here at practice sometimes and I don’t miss it,” he joked.
But after three seasons playing strictly as a long snapper, Detwiler is getting a chance to get a little more of it. In fall camp, he has taken reps on the kickoff cover team, sprinting downfield into a forceful collision, which no doubt will help when covering punts.
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“They always joked, ‘We’re going to get you on kickoff. We’re going to get you on kickoff return,’ ” he said. “They did that for three years and then they finally put me on it just to see what I could do.
“It was a little awkward at first getting the body mechanics back. It’s weird, you go from high school playing every snap, both sides of the ball, just being a football player, and snapping was just something I could do. And now, snapping is what I totally focus on. It took a while to get my body control back down on kickoff and kickoff return, but doing all the drills is definitely going to help me in punt coverage when I have to break down, tackle and all that. Overall, it will help me out a lot.”
Coach Tim DeRuyter said he loved the mentality, but given the risk of injury to a player with such a unique skill set and a long track record of textbook execution the chances are very slim Detwiler will get into a game to cover a kickoff.
“We’re looking now to see if he can do it, and then we’ll have that discussion,” DeRuyter said, diplomatically.
In reality the chances of Detwiler seeing time on the kickoff cover team are close to zero.
He knows that.
“I doubt they’ll let me in a game because (special teams coordinator Pete Germano) will never let that happen,” Detwiler said. “It’s virtually the same thing. It’s a coverage unit. Getting reps on kickoff will help me in my punt coverage as well, so I have to take advantage of every rep that I get there.
“He has already told me he won’t. But, hey, if it came down to it, I’ll do whatever I need to do.”
That likely will be snapping the football and then covering the punts of Garrett Swanson, where he has through the years drawn more and more attention. When Detwiler was a freshman and even as a sophomore, there were teams that let him snap the ball and then gave him a free release down the field, using their blockers elsewhere. But he can and has made tackles covering punts.
“He has to be accounted for because he can run, so I thought those (kickoff cover) drills would be really good and in an emergency we would use him, but he’s too valuable to us,” Germano said. “He’s an awesome kid, love him to death. But we can’t take that risk.”
Dylan Detwiler file
- Year: Senior
- Height/weight: 6-1/231
- Hometown: Hemet
- High school: Hemet
- 2014 review: Played in all 14 games serving as the team’s primary long snapper. Had a tackle in the New Mexico and UNLV games. … Helped true freshman walk-on kicker Kody Kroening make 9 of 14 field goal attempts, including 6 of 8 in Mountain West games.
- What they’re saying: “He’s a great snapper, he’s a great leader, and even a better person. Never been around a kid like him in my whole life. He is phenomenal.” – Special teams coach Pete Germano
- Detwiler on 2015 outlook: “We have a lot of young talent this year and I’m looking forward to watching them play. I’m only out there on fourth downs or PAT or field goals but really looking forward to seeing how they compete against other opponents. Competitive spirit is way different than it was last year. Guys are out here competing like crazy. … I think we’re more of a team than we’ve ever really been.”