Related Stories Snapshot: A look at Syracuse captain, 4-year starting long snapper Rodgers Published on September 2, 2015 at 8:24 pm Sam Rodgers ran through the basics for 15 minutes and was now standing seven yards behind me.I tried to remember all the tips and it made my head spin. Bend at the knees before reaching for the ball. Put your right hand on the ball like you’re going to throw it. Layer your left hand above your right and make sure your thumbs are parallel to each other. The outside line of the football should cut through your left shoulder. Don’t crane your neck to look through your legs. Make a double chin, instead. Then …Snap.“That wasn’t one of your better ones,” Rodgers, Syracuse’s long snapper from 2011-14, said as he lunged to his left to catch the wobbling ball. “You were thinking too much.”Of course I was. After spending an hour long snapping with Rodgers on a hot afternoon on Aug. 19, I learned that the best long snaps are, somehow, calculated and mindless at the same time. Rodgers spent four years perfecting the craft for the Orange, and spent time at Buffalo Bills training camp this past summer.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textNow he’s back — working at the Carrier Dome and training for another shot at the NFL — and Syracuse’s search for long-snapper stability will restart when it hosts Rhode Island at 7 p.m. on Friday.At the tail end of training camp, SU special teams coordinator Tim Daoust said true freshman Matt Keller will snap for punts, and that Keller and senior walk-on Keith Mitsuuchi were still competing to snap on field goals. Neither player has in-game college experience at the nuanced position, so I set out to learn how difficult long snapping really is.Reader discretion is advised. Don’t try this at home.“You’ll see it in practice, everyone wants to see if they can do it,” Rodgers said. “But most people are really bad. It’s hard.”I told Rodgers I should probably see him snapping a few times before I try. The first drill he does is a short 5-yard snap, then he moves to 7 yards and snaps in slow motion to emphasize technique. I do these with him and my lower back starts to hurt every time I bend down for a snap. He told me I’m not bending enough at the knees. My thighs start to burn. I look at the clock on my phone and we’ve been on the field for 12 minutes.“I’m at 10 yards now so it’s going to come in fast, can you catch?” he asked, setting the ball up at a distance in between punt and field goal snaps. I nodded.“I brought my gloves,” he continued. “There’s no shame in wearing them, my wife does when she catches for me.”I declined to wear the gloves and he shook his head as he got into his stance. He grunted as he snapped it and it looks like the ball was shot out of a pitching machine — an airtight spiral with the nose of the football bounding for my chest. The ball hits my hands and I think for a second that my thumb’s broken. When I look down there’s a five-fingered stop sign on the end of my right arm.“So that’s what it looks like,” I said to him, when what I really wanted to say was: “Did you feel that raindrop? We should call it a day.”Rodgers told me to try from 10 yards and I’m actually not too bad. The ball doesn’t zip like his but it gets there and is, for the most part, somewhat accurate. So he moved to 14 yards, which is about where the punter would stand.I bent down and looked through my legs and he looks like he’s standing on the other end of the field. He tells me that if I let my momentum takeover and get my legs into my follow through I should be just fine. When I let it go I don’t even look because I’m sure it’s anywhere but in his hands.“That could have been punted,” Rodgers said, which I learn is a real compliment in long snapping. “That was about 1.2 seconds, the goal is to get it to the punter in about 0.8.”He told me to try and get a little more on it and try for that 0.8-second mark. All the fundamentals and tips ran through my head and I let it rip, this time whipping around to admire my work.It bounced about 5 yards in front of him, skipped past his reach and rolled to midfield. It was one thing to complete one good snap, and a whole different beast to complete two in a row. I probably snapped around 50 times and got two votes of confidence from Rodgers: one “that could have been punted,” and one “that was fine.”When Syracuse’s new long snappers jog onto the field against Rhode Island on Friday night, I’ll be happy with my seat in the press box and sympathetic to any growing pains.“You did fine out there,” Rodgers said, smirking, after we finished up. “The first time’s hard for everyone.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+
Commentary by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — Happy Independence Day weekend everyone. Since I’m in a Patriotic mood and we are about to choose between Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dumb for President in six months, I thought I would take a look back at Presidents of years past.So I’ve decided to release the official, “Cueball’s top 10 U.S. Presidents of All Time.I’ll count it down Casey Kasem style from 10 to No. 1. This is so exciting – kind of like shooting off fireworks.10. Andrew Jackson.Andrew JacksonI would have loved to have knocked Mr. Jackson off this list because he was a racist and a jerk. He removed the Indians from the south and put them in Oklahoma (should anyone have to live in Oklahoma?). He also kept the slave trade prospering.But he dismantled the Bank of the United States that was riddled with corrupt rich fat cat bankers. He also held off South Carolina from seceding from the Union after the state was establishing higher tariffs than the U.S. on imported goods. South Carolina would eventually secede 25 years later, but not because of Jackson.Jackson could be defined as the Rambo amongst Presidents. He didn’t take much guff from anyone.9. Lyndon Johnson.Lyndon JohnsonI had a epiphany in just the last year or so. I have always thought of Johnson as a buffoon. After all, he would go on the toilet while talking to reporters during interviews. The Vietnam War was a total disaster.But he signed the Civil Rights Act, and you can’t deny that was a defining moment in U.S. history. It brought the state closer to our ultimate promise – equal rights for everyone. That may never be accomplished, but at least, America wasn’t looking the other way on blatant racism.Johnson is a bit too liberal for my taste. His war on poverty became a bureaucratic mess. But he institutionalized some of the U.S. Government’s greatest legislation: from voting rights, animal welfare, freedom of information, expanded social security, conservation and others.I feel his fight for the poor was genuine, and people who fight for the unfortunate – can’t be bad people.8. Dwight Eisenhower. Dwight EisenhowerAnd yes, I was pleased that the new airport in Wichita is called the Eisenhower National Airport instead of that boring Mid-Continent Airport name.What I loved about Eisenhower is his middle of the road approach to things. He governed by doing what he thought was right not by the partisan politics that is so prevalent today.He ended the Korean War. He kept the Soviets at bay but didn’t tick them off. He gave us the Interstate highway system and promoted technology. And despite being a General who helped us win World War II, he wasn’t a war-monger. When he was leaving office he basically blasted the military industry and warned us about a future in which our economy will depend on making bombs and other weapons. He proved to be right.7. Thomas Jefferson. Thomas JeffersonI probably should put Jefferson in my top five, but I knocked him down because he was a plantation slave owner and had a slave child – not to mention he didn’t do the Indians any favors.But as far as accomplishments go, he was one of the best. He authored the Declaration of Independence for goodness sake. When he became President he initiated the Louisiana Purchase that nearly doubled the size of the U.S. from the French for a dirt cheap price. France was broke at the time from fighting too many wars.He established the university system that we know today, and he sent Lewis and Clark on an expedition to the Pacific Ocean.6. Harry Truman. Harry S. TrumanIf I had to hang out with any President, it would have been Truman. He was a good guy and hard worker. I loved, loved, loved how he took the election away from Thomas Dewey, who everyone thought was going to win in 1948.Truman was the guy who authorized the dropping of the atomic bomb twice on Japan and ending World War II. He founded the Truman Doctrine to contain communism worldwide, he established the United Nations, and he denounced isolationism – giving the U.S. an aggressive worldwide presence and dominating foreign policy.Plus, he started the process of racial integration by desegregating the U.S. Armed Forces.5. Teddy Roosevelt. Theodore RooseveltT. Roosevelt was a stud. He had boxing matches in the White House, hunted bears, went on an African safari that nearly killed him, and he made a campaign speech right after getting shot.But his legacy was breaking up monopolies and fighting for the average citizen.When he took office, tycoons were ruling the empire and were setting their own rules causing rampant unemployment and inflation. Roosevelt would break them with various trust-breaking regulations. He established regulations on food and drugs and he constructed the Panama Canal.And the next time you are on vacation and visiting a national park. Thank Roosevelt.4. George Washington. George WashingtonWell, yes. He was our first. He was overwhelmingly elected to be President by the Electoral College after refusing to be king.He was a unifier. People of all ilk loved him. I always wondered if it was because he was such a great leader and nice guy or because Americans were just enamored by the fact that they had their own country and someone leading it.Washington established the cabinet. He started the inaugural address and was called “Mr. President” a term we use today. He established a taxing system and created a national bank. He hated political parties, and really never wanted to engage the U.S. in wars on foreign soil.I imagine what it would have been liked had the U.S. put someone else in power – someone much more unlikable like Alexander Hamilton. I’m not sure the U.S. would have so firmly established itself as a nation so quickly. Washington was indeed the right man at the right time.3. Franklin Roosevelt.Franklin RooseveltOk, Ok, Ok. He was the closest thing to a socialist as we ever had in the White House. But let’s remember what a screwed up nation he inherited. Everyone was broke, and we were on the verge of collapsing as a nation.He started the “New Deal” in which he implemented new government projects for the unemployed. He implemented bank regulations, he started unemployment compensation, repealed prohibition and established such programs as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Social Security.And by the end of his Presidency he was guiding the U.S. through World War II.The key to Roosevelt’s leadership was his unwavering optimism. People felt like he was on their side.2. Ronald Reagan. Ronald ReaganYou know why we are arguing about immigration and gun control? Because we are not fighting about nuclear holocaust.Reagan is the only President during my adult lifetime to make this list. Why? It wasn’t just because he was a dynamic leader and changed the complexion of our nation. It wasn’t because he reduced inflation from 12.5 to 4.4 percent, and the country had an annual growth rate during his Presidency of 3.4 percent. Or the fact he changed Americaâ€™s view on how she sees herself, or that he left office with a 69 percent approval rating. Or that he could get along with his political adversaries, something no one wants to do these days.Reagan finishes No. 2 on my list because he ended the Cold War. He built up the military, escalated the arms race, while shouting “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall!” while being in Berlin. The Communist party collapsed and the Berlin Wall fell thereafter.Oh, Ronnie had his issues. Iran-Contra affair was a little troubling, although to this day I’m not thinking it is was the scandal it was built up to be. Few can deny Alzheimer’s Disease was starting to progress during his second term.But Reagan seems to have been our last great President, who rose to the dignity of the office, and commanded the stage.1. Abraham Lincoln. Abraham LincolnWell, duh.There’s this little thing called the U.S. Civil War we fought. He preserved our nation from splitting into two. All the awhile he eliminated slavery which is without a doubt the single worst blight in our history. Lincoln also delivered the Gettysburg Address – one helluva speech. And perhaps his greatest accomplishment was getting everyone on the same page – except the south that is.Lincoln was an adept politician. I highly suggest you read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book: A Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln which details how Abe was able to rise to power using keen intelligence and bold political skills. His genius was that he evolved with the times and the people he was with. He never sought to end slavery when he was first elected President, but he evolved into doing so.That is what leadership is. It’s about adapting to your enemies while keeping your friends. It’s about bringing about compromise with personal sacrifice and determination. It’s about doing what is right for this country.I’m not sure we have that in a leader today. I know the two running for President seem to lack any of those qualities.But America ever so often will get a good one like these 10 Presidents who in my opinion were the best of their times.Follow us on Facebook.Follow us on Twitter.