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Archive for Wednesday, November 15, 1995

S NO SNAP TO SNAP, MCDERMOTT SAYS

November 15, 1995

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If only Sean McDermott played just about any other postion, he could bask in the anonymity of a blown assignment or two.

But it's McDermott's misfortune to play long snapper for Kansas University's football team, a position that draws as much individual attention -- when things go wrong -- as quarterback or wide receiver.

"He's expected to perform," KU coach Glen Mason said. "He has an individual duty, so if he doesn't perform, it stands out."

McDermott has stood out too much this season, according to Mason and McDermott himself. A 6-foot-4, 220-pound true freshman from Fort Worth, Texas, who came to KU as a walk-on but earned a scholarship in the preseason, McDermott has made two especially bad snaps this season.

The first came against K-State. His low snap skidded between punter Darrin Simmons' legs and through the end zone for a safety. The two points jump-started K-State to a 41-7 rout over the Jayhawks.

His second glaringly bad snap came last Saturday. The ball sailed over Simmons' head and rolled for 36 yards before Simmons fell on it.

"You have to try to forget about it," McDermott said. "It's upsetting. But if you dwell on it, you'll probably mess it up again."

McDermott was the long snapper all during his junior year and most of his senior year at Arlington Heights High. Mason thought he'd be a natural at the position at KU.

"He's got the ability," Mason said. "All he needs is the consistency. He's just a freshman, but he's the best we've got."

The person who has the most to lose from McDermott's errant snaps -- Simmons -- is the last to criticize his snapper. In fact, Simmons can't help but feel a little sorry for the criticism McDermott has received.

"He's getting thrown into the fire real quick," Simmons said. "It's a real tough position, especially for a freshman. There's a lot of pressure on him. It's not an easy position at all. I feel bad for him. I'd hate to have that pressure put on me when I was 18 years old."

Simmons has been touted as an All-American, especially after he led the nation in punting for most of the early season. Simmons now ranks second in the league and eighth nationally with a 43.54-yard average.

But Simmons isn't about to blame the freshman snapper for his decline.

"You have to be a team back there," Simmons said. "I try to relax him and provide confidence in him. There has to be a trust back there, and I trust him. We've been shaky at times, but he's getting better. We just have to get back on top."

McDermott himself isn't so forgiving. Even though Simmons has been able to get off 48 clean punts, McDermott kicks himself for the two glaring mis-snaps.

"Darrin's been great," McDermott said. "If I were him, I wouldn't be very happy. But he's always been supportive. Hopefully I won't make any more mistakes. I just have to get over the two bad ones."

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