True freshman Adam Bay’s first collegiate game, and first collegiate long snap, forced him into action early and not under the best of circumstances.
On a 4th-and-23 during their first offensive series of the year versus Utah State, the Wisconsin Badgers needed to punt from their own eight-yard line after two sacks.
No pressure for a kid starting his UW career under the lights of Camp Randall Stadium and in front of over 75,000 fans, right?
“You know, it’s kind of funny because all of my snaps in high school were all backed up in the end zone for the first snaps of the game,” Bay said on Monday. “Just like that, it was a backed-up snap in the end zone. All of my practice kind of just came in hand.”
“I just really cleared everything out of my mind, and it felt good.”
Sophomore punter Anthony Lotti received the snap cleanly, then proceeded to boot a 54-yard punt that helped flip the field in the 59–10 win on Sept. 1.
Through two games after taking over for the trusted Connor Udelhoven, all has seemingly gone well for Bay, the true freshman who was instantly pegged as the No. 1 long snapper upon arriving at Wisconsin.
The position itself may be one of the most underrated on a football team, as a bad snap to a punter can drastically change field position and swing momentum. A high snap to a holder for field goals or extra points could take much-needed points off the scoreboard, a ‘W’ out of the win column.
Long story short: if you’re not talking about the long snapper during or after the game, odds are he’s doing his job. Fans haven’t heard Bay’s name yet.
So far, so good.
According to Bay, every snap he’s registered so far has been comfortable.
“It has to be,” he said bluntly.
There were some adjustments needed to be made for Bay, the Mesa, Ariz., native who flipped his commitment from Missouri to Wisconsin last year. Lotti mentioned during fall camp how Bay had to slightly change his footing. Football’s a game of inches, and his modification when snapping was a classic example.
“If the ball does go fast, it leaves a lot of room for error between the 14 yards," Bay said.
The adjustment was also a part of going from a spread-style punting set-up in high school to Wisconsin’s “pro-style,” according to Bay.
“I kind of got sloppy with my snapping form getting used to the pro style,” Bay said, “but about a week before the first game, I really got it right back to where I was when I came in snapping, and I improved a lot on my blocking. So that really helped out a lot.”
The fellow specialists on the team have noted the transition and improvements made since Bay has arrived in Madison.
“He’s been doing really well,” punter/holder Connor Allen said on Monday. “He’s adjusting from that high school, where you just snap and run to now you got to snap, you got to block different sides and make sure you’re doing your job the whole time there, and cover after that. So he’s done well adjusting to that and he’s been learning it, and he’s come along quickly which is awesome to see.”
Kicker Rafael Gaglianone noted that Bay, who was the No. 1 long snapper according to Kohl’s Kicking Camps and selected to play in the 2017 Under Armour All-American Game, came in as a “pretty polished long snapper” and has done a great job early on.
Trust is earned every day with consistency, according to Wisconsin’s placekicker. It appears Bay, who mentioned earlier this week that a lot of family will be making the nearly 10-hour drive north from Mesa to Provo, Utah, for Saturday’s match-up against BYU (2:30 p.m. CT, ABC), has gained the confidence of those around him.
“The mentality of just put down your nose and just keep working and being able to listen to us as veterans and growing,” Gaglianone said. “He’s done a great job of that, so that gives us a lot of trust.”