Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cowart Snaps up Scholarship | by Pat

Add one more committed recruit to the Class of 2009. Florida footballer Jordan Cowart picked up a scholarship offer from ND last week and quickly turned that into a public commitment. He had been offered the chance to come to ND as a preferred walk-on, but lately ND had been suggesting the possibility of a full ride. When that offer finally came through, Cowart quickly accepted.

At 6'2" 225, Cowart is different from just about any other ND recruit in recent memory in that he was recruited specifically as a long snapper. Normally that position is held by back up offensive linemen or a walk-on, but ND must have felt the need to solidify a critical, but often low profile spot on the Irish special teams unit.

Notre Dame was the first school to offer Cowart a scholarship, but according to Irish Illustrated he was also hearing from Florida, Georgia, Miami, Louisville, and Wisconsin. He is unranked on Rivals.com while Scout lists him as a 2-star recruit. ESPN is a bit more generous listing him as the 68th "athlete" recruit with an overall grade of 77 (same as they gave Nyshier Oliver, Alex Bullard, and Jake Golic). ESPN also had some rather high praise for Cowart when it comes to his specialty.

I can't imagine there to be a better long snapper in the country than Cowart. He has a lot of velocity on his punt snaps; very little arc on the 14 yd. snap. Punt snaps are not only fast enough, they are accurate thus making it easy for the punter to handle. Short snaps mirror the long snaps in terms of speed and accuracy. The short snaps are a tight spiral and consistently hit the holders hands. Cowart also carries a big enough frame to provide solid protection as a snapper. There is no doubt he is destined to be a Division 1 long snapper.
If you're going to use a scholarship on a niche position, getting one considered the best at what he does certainly doesn't hurt. Backing up ESPN's opinion, Cowart attended the Chris Sailer National Kicking and Snapping Camp and was named one of the top underclassmen long snappers.

It is still a bit curious that ND decided to use a scholarship on a long snapper, but at least there is room in the current class, he's considered one of the best at what he does, and he will help ND keep a pipeline going to one of the most talent filled Catholic high schools in the country. Cowart attends St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, same high school as incoming punter Ben Turk, Sam Young, and Dan Wenger.

ND's long snapping was an issue from the start of the season as six different players were listed as possibilities and a few bad snaps cost ND points against San Diego State. Walk-on Kevin Brooks eventually won the long snapping job, but if Cowart is as advertised, he just might take over the job for four years. It is noteworthy that ND will have three kickers, two punters, and one long snapper on scholarship next season. Three special teams players alone fill up the current recruiting class. With Maust and Burkhart entering their senior year, ND did need to look towards the future with regards to special teams, but I can't remember a time when ND had so many specialists on scholarship.