THE PURSUIT OF PERFECTION

A story on long snapper Tyler Wigglesworth

When you think of a key player on the football field, who's the first player that comes to mind? The quarterback? Sure. What about the running back? Yeah, they’re pretty important. 

I’m talking about a position that’s often overlooked. It’s a position that every punt begins with, and every field goal attempt starts with. 

You’ve got it! the long snapper!

The long snapper is one of the most important positions on the football field. It throws you into a lot of pressure-type situations where you have to be nearly perfect 100 percent of the time. The goal of the long snapper is to get the ball to the kicker or punter as cleanly and quickly as possible. If that ball isn't presented perfectly every time, it can add a lot of pressure to the kicker to adjust their routine. 

Senior long snapper Tyler Wigglesworth (CQ) of Mountain Ridge High School only looks for one thing each time.

 “I try to be perfect every snap,” Wigglesworth said. “My dad gets mad at me for trying to be so perfect.”

“You know, there's times where on a PAT (extra point attempt) where I don't hit him, and I'm like, alright go back and rework your stuff,” he said.

Wigglesworth is known to be the one-trick pony on the team, but that one trick is an art that he’s perfected. Former Mountain Ridge long snapper Ethan Hudak, who currently is a redshirt freshman at Tulane University, approached Wigglesworth’s father during Tyler’s freshman year and asked “would he be interested in doing it?'' and that’s how his search for perfection began. 

“I was looking for a way to get on the field, so I knew that was the way to do it right there,” he said. “He took me under his wing and taught me everything I needed to know. So, I’m here now.”

Since then, he’s traveled all over the country to places such as Nevada and Georgia to attend camps such as the Kohl’s Kicking, Punting, and Snapping camps as well as the Rubio Long Snapping camp. Chris Rubio (CQ), founder of the longest-running long snapping camp in the nation, has lots of praise for Wigglesworth for the years that he attended his camps. 

“He’s athletic, he’s got a lot of potential in every single thing he does,” Rubio said in a series of videos posted on his website about Wigglesworth. “(He) moves really well on his feet. He's a smooth long snapper and a smooth athlete.”

A common theme that continues to be noted about Wigglesworth is his work ethic, great attitude and coachability. He’s not high maintenance and his self-discipline is second to none. 

“He's a very methodical, analytical kid. Even when he’s on his own, he’ll set up his phone to video himself, and he’s done that for all the four years that he’s been here doing this,” assistant coach Nathan Pocock (CQ) said. “And even now, he’ll go back and compare how he did today versus how he did a year ago, two years ago.”

Pocock has a seemingly easy task to be responsible for a coachable, self-disciplined mind such as Tyler’s. 

“I don’t coach him,” Pocock said.

What? 

“He brings his own equipment here. Nobody needs to get on him,” Pocock said. “He’s got his little rituals that he goes through, his little superstitions. He has to do things a certain way, and if they don't work out then he has to hit the reset button and do it again until it does work out.”

Mountain Ridge holds a tradition where the seniors on the special teams unit take the freshman under their wings, show them the ropes and bring them up to speed. 

“The long snapping community is such a tight-knit community,” Wigglesworth said. “We have a bunch of guys that are willing every day to help me. Ross Ryder, he’s up at Colorado State right now, he had come down and hit me up and was asking me to snap. I picked his brain and learned everything from him. I owe a lot of those guys all the respect.”

Wigglesworth realized his talents towards the end of his junior year as his snap speed increased along with his accuracy. After placing in the top six of the Kohl’s Camp out of roughly 40 snappers, it was then he realized he needed to be improving every day.

“It's something that you gotta do daily,” he said. “I tell the younger snapper here, if you wanna go somewhere with it, you gotta snap daily.”

Senior kicker Braeden Lacombe (CQ) saw just how driven Wigglesworth was to be better. Wigglesworth was sidelined with a broken elbow his sophomore year, but would stay after practice for about 30 minutes to get extra work in. 

“His work ethic is something that most coaches don't see but it's something that's noticeable that shows his effort and his play,” Lacombe said. “ He knows what he's doing and he's done that for a while now. I think that's his best trait about him.”

Having known each other for eight years, Lacombe and Wigglesworth have gotten closer the past three years as they spend the majority of their workouts together. 

“He's pushed me to be the best I can be. He's pushing me every day...getting my confidence up, yeah (he’s) definitely played a huge morale booster on me,” Lacombe said.

Whether Lacombe is preparing to kick a field goal, or whether he’s setting up to punt the ball, there’s no lack of trust from the hands the ball is coming from.

“Nobody has any doubts. They know he's going to deliver every single time. It’s complete trust,” Pocock said. “I told him if he does end in the top three of the state this year, I'm taking all of the credit for it, even though I've taught him absolutely zero.”