Bearing the Load; Jimmy Landes, the NFL Combine’s Lone Long Snapper
In one important way, being a long snapper is like being a superhero...if no one knows your name, that means you're probably doing your job right.
Dozens of athletes have participated in this week's NFL Scouting Combine, but of those a lone one lists his position as long snapper. That lone wolf is Jimmy Landes of Baylor.
"When I watched NFL games in college, I would never really notice the long snapper," Landes says with a smile. "I guess that was a good thing!"
A 23 year old native of Tyler, TX, Landes was a part of a Baylor football renaissance, a transformation of the Bears football program that turned them from perennial Big 12 cellar dwellers to College Football Playoff contenders. Landes emphasized the team effort that played into the transformation, but is proud of the role he played in it.
"I remember my senior year of high school," Says Landes, recalling his college selection process. "I was sitting in my parents room trying to decide what to, and mom said 'why don't you go to Baylor and play football?' and I said 'Mom...they're terrible'. I decided to go, and from there we've been going north. I feel like I got there at the right time."
Representing the Bears at the Combine wasn't exactly a dream that Landes had upon his arrival in Waco in 2011. Landes was actually a baseball player, serving the Bears in another position that require a lot of squatting...catcher.
However, after two years behind home plate, he switched full time to football, and after his senior year in the 2015 season, he was invited to partake in the Senior Bowl. Shortly after, he received even more good news.
"I was at the Senior Bowl, and my phone went off," he remembers. "It was an email that said, NFL Combine, congrats, you're invited. I left the media that day, I just walked out. It's just such an honor to be here, to snap for all the punters and kickers. It's truly a blessing to snap a ball, and I got to give God the glory."
Landes already has a friend in the league who is not only local, but a fellow Bears alum.
"The long snapper for the Indianapolis Colts, Justin Snow, has been my mentor for the past year," he said. "He retired a few years ago, and he's been helping me with my snapping and blocking. He's been my guy who has helped me with my transition from college to the NFL. He's just been a great help."
It was not only Snow that encouraged the former walk-on Landes to carry on his snapping skills to the league, but Baylor head coach Art Briles as well.
"After my junior year, Coach Briles called me into his office," Landes recalls. "It was my first year of doing punts, extra points and field goals. (Briles) told me that I had a good size, a good shot at this. I met with (Snow), who told me to work on my footwork for the NFL."
Landes was further able to increase his profile with a viral video, featuring Landes snapping from the nosebleed sections at Baylor's McLane Stadium, in which his snap perfectly lands into a trash can placed on field. Recalling the incident with a laugh, Landes recalls it took him "about 15 tries".
One of Landes's biggest challenges this week was to convince NFL teams that he is worth using a precious draft pick on. Unlike positions like quarterback, a spot that can be broken down from many angles, Landes has just two categories on which to be judged...be fast, be accurate.
"With short, field goal snaps, mostly all they care about is if you can get the laces out," Landes said, which prompted an Ace Ventura joke from a questioning reporter. "On the longer punt snaps, the ideal time 0.70-75. Every ball you get back there has to be right on the hip."
As to what he needs to improve on, Landes's biggest concern is his blocking.
"The Senior Bowl was one of the first times I was able to fully do it in a game like situation," he said. "It's something I need to improve on moving forward in the NFL."
"It's a unique position," he said. "They rarely get drafted. You're fighting for a job against a veteran. Mentally, I'm saying if I don't get it, I'll go back and finish my degree, and stay in shape. Long snapping is a position where's it's not one and done. If you can stay in shape, it's something you can do. I'm going to try and do it until my body gives out."
Landes participated in on-field activity on Thursday. He ran a 5.00 40 yard dash and posted a 110 inch broad jump.
His massive snap total remains unknown.
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