Dylan Detwiler has, in fact, spent a sizeable portion of his Bulldogs career bent over at the waist.
He just doesn’t bow to perception.
“That’s a constant struggle,” Detwiler says.
Detwiler is a long snapper, which in the hierarchy of a football team places him alongside punters and kickers on the lowly “specialists” peg.
He has heard all the putdowns and recites them on cue.
“You’re not an athlete. You’re not strong. You’re not a football player,” Detwiler says.
“When I first got here, that’s one of the things I wanted to do. To change how people viewed me.”
You’re not an athlete. You’re not strong. You’re not a football player.
Dylan Detwiler, reciting the common perceptions of being a long snapper
The senior from Hemet, one of 18 who will be feted before kickoff Saturday night at Bulldog Stadium, has done that and more.
Detwiler arrived at Fresno State as just another walk-on. It took him one year to earn a scholarship (playing through a torn MCL), and now the 6-foot-1, 232-pounder concludes his career as both team captain (he received the highest number of votes in a team-wide balloting) and NFL prospect.
“He’s the best long snapper that I’ve coached,” special teams coordinator Pete Germano says. “There’s been a lot of NFL guys coming through asking me about him, a ton of guys.”
It’s easy to overlook the importance of long snapping. Only when a botched snap costs a team at a crucial time (Trey Junkin, ladies and gentlemen) does anyone seem to notice.
For all the ups and downs the Bulldogs have experienced in recent seasons, Detwiler’s contributions have been as consistent as a metronome. On a typical day he’ll practice 100 to 125 snaps split between punts (15 yards) and field goals/PATs (7 yards).
For all the ups and downs the Bulldogs have experienced in recent seasons, Detwiler’s contributions have been as consistent as a metronome.
“The key is repetition,” he says. “Every time I go down to snap the ball I have to make sure I’m doing the same thing. Hand position especially is crucial in snapping a spiral.”
Detwiler snaps with both hands. He grips the ball in his right as if he were throwing a pass, then cocks his wrist and uses his left as a guide.
Snapping for field goals and PATs is all upper body and feel. Snapping for punts is more difficult because leg strength is required to deliver the ball over the extra distance with as much velocity as possible.
At Fresno State, the goal is to execute a punt in 2 seconds or less. Detwiler gets 0.75 seconds for the snap, allowing punter Garrett Swanson 1.25 to catch the football and boot it away.
Detwiler’s timed average: 0.69 seconds.
“He’s got great speed on his snaps,” Germano says.
0.69 Timed average (in seconds) of Dylan Detwiler’s punt snaps
Another thing that separates Detwiler from other long snappers is his ability to make tackles.
Just ask Carlos Davis, the Mississippi punt returner who neglected to call for a fair catch during the third quarter of a Sept. 12 game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Detwiler raced downfield and slammed into Davis, dislodging the football and resulting in a fumble recovery that gave Fresno State possession at the Rebels 17-yard line in what was then a 35-14 game.
Detwiler’s four special teams tackles, all on punt coverage, tie him with Stratton Brown for the team lead.
“He’s a threat that other teams need to be aware of,” Germano says. “He’s been doubled he’s been so good. He’s the rare snapper who faces double teams.”
An all-league center in high school, Detwiler is perfectly comfortable with contact. So much so that he’s volunteered his services for kickoff coverage.
Until recently, the answer Detwiler always got from Germano went something like, “Sorry, but you’re too valuable.”
He’d be a great special teams guy. He’s just too valuable until now.
Fresno State assistant Pete Germano, on Detwiler
When injuries decimated the unit against Hawaii, Detwiler finally got his chance on five kickoffs. He would relish a few more against Colorado State in his final college game.
“If they need me, sure,” Detwiler says. “I’ll run down on kickoff again. I enjoy it.”
A criminology major, Detwiler sounds eager about a career in law enforcement. But first he wants to give the NFL a shot and plans to spend the next several months training for Fresno State’s pro day.
Snapping is such a valued commodity that 14 of the NFL’s 32 teams are paying their long snappers salaries of $1 million or more.
Great work if you can get it.
“Based on what people have told me, he’s got a legitimate chance,” Germano says. “Every scout that’s been through here has commented on Swanny and him. They’re legit guys.”
Long snappers at the NFL level are required to protect – typically against 290-pound linemen. To show he can withstand these rigors, Detwiler aims to add another 10 to 15 pounds once the season ends.
I’m going to focus on football for six months until the pro day comes and see what happens.
NFL teams rarely use draft picks on long snappers, so to raise his profile Detwiler (along with Swanson) will attend a free agent combine for kickers, punters and snappers in Gilbert, Arizona.
“It’s a good place to get recognized, so I’ll do all those camps,” he says. “Then do my pro day and see what happens next.”
Right now he’s thinking more about the immediate future. One final game in a Bulldogs uniform, one last trip down the stadium ramp.
“It’s crazy how fast the time has gone by,” Detwiler says. “It seems like it was just yesterday my first time walking down that ramp. I’ll definitely take in that moment a little more.”
FRESNO STATE VS. COLORADO STATE
- Saturday: 6 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium
- Records: Bulldogs 3-8 overall, 2-5 MW; Rams 6-5, 4-3
- TV: CBS Sports Network
- Radio: KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
Last time down the ramp
Eighteen Fresno State football players will be appearing in their final games Saturday night at Bulldog Stadium.
C Bo Bonheim: Appeared in 50 career games, including 32 straight starts
LS Dylan Detwiler: 2015 captain and four-year long snapper
LB Ejiro Ederaine: Needs 2.5 TFLs to equal MW career record of 47.0
S Shannon Edwards: 103 tackles, 1 interception over 47 career games
DE Suli Faletuipapai: Two tackles in seven career games
T Alex Fifita: Has made 35 starts in 46 career games
RB Dustin Garrison: Graduate transfer has 231 rushing yards, 1 TD
DE Todd Hunt: Made 130 career tackles in 46 games (26 starts)
WR Justin Johnson: Appeared in 42 games with four starts
DE Claudell Louis: Made 55 tackles and 25 appearances over two-year career
RB Malique Micenheimer: 2015 captain has played in 46 career games at RB/LB
T Justin Northern: 3x Academic All-District pick has made 38 consecutive starts
LB Kyrian Obidiegwu: Eight tackles, blocked punt in 34 career games
LB Jaamal Rose: Eleven games, two season-ending knee injuries
P Garrett Swanson: Averaging 42.0 yards on 194 career punts
RB Marteze Waller: Fifth on Bulldogs’ all-time rushing list (2,996 yards)
SS Charles Washington: Has made 37 career starts, 199 tackles
LB Kyrie Wilson: Eleven tackles shy of school’s career top 10 list