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Two-star freshman set to be Crimson Tide’s next marquee long snapper

Nick Saban runs off the field in 2017 College Football Playoff title game versus Clemson
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.– It may not be a highly-profiled position, but every role is important when it comes to the University of Alabama football program under head coach Nick Saban.

Since 2008, three long snappers have journeyed through The Capstone – Brian Selman, Carson Tinker and Cole Mazza – with all three earning a national championship as starters. In the same manner of replacing experience on offense and defense, the Crimson Tide has to locate a new name at a more specialized job.

Of its 16 January enrollees from its 2017 class, two-star prospect and native Texan, Thomas Fletcher appears to be next in line to anchor special teams. A graduate of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., Fletcher is widely considered one of the nation’s top long snappers. He earned a five-star ranking at the Rubio Long Snapping Camp in 2016, while both 247Sports and Scout recruiting networks listed him as top-ranked in his role.

Fletcher enters a Tide program on the heel of Mazza’s exceptional career.

The Bakersfield, Calif., native was a four-year starter that never botched a snap in 583 attempts. He missed only two games during his tenure, both occurring in 2015 against Ole Miss and Louisiana-Monroe.

Despite taking fans on a emotional roller coaster in five seasons, Mazza aided placekicker Adam Griffith to making 57 career field goals, which is fifth all-time in school history. He also assisted Poland’s native son to a strong year in 2015, where he made 23 of 32 attempts (71.9 percent) and all 62 of his extra points. Griffith would nail a 33-yard field goal and six extra points in the 2016 College Football Playoff national title game, helping the Tide secure a 45-40 win over Clemson.

Losing his girlfriend, Ashley Harrison, in the April 2011 tornado was devastating, but Carson Tinker kept the faith. He was a critical factor on two BCS national championship teams, including one in 2012 – where he helped Jeremy Shelley connect on all 11 field goal attempts and 69 extra point tries. He set a BCS record with five field goals in the 2012 title game (2011 season) versus Louisiana State University in a 21-0 win at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Brian Selman may have been a Mike Shula recruit, but he was the first long snapper to win a national championship under Saban at Alabama. In 2009, he guided Leigh Tiffin to making 30 of 35 field goals (86%) and 42 of 46 extra points (91.3%) to capture a BCS national title. According to sources, both redshirt freshman Scott Meyer and linebacker Mack Wilson have done some long snapping in spring practice.

Yet and still, Fletcher is expected to be the starter in the fall.

Stephen M. Smith is a managing editor and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

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