This is the final position preview of Washington State University’s 2009 football team. Today: Special teams.
PULLMAN – Like all long snappers, Washington State University’s Zach Enyeart would just as soon not be noticed. Usually that happens only when something goes amiss.
“I don’t want people to know my name,” the redshirt junior said this week, “because then I know I messed up.”
But there is someone in Enyeart’s family who wishes he were easier to follow.
See, when the 6-foot-1, 249-pound Enyeart runs off the bench to snap for a field goal or a punt, about the only part of his body that appears on television is his, well, his backside. Which makes it difficult for his grandmother to figure out which one of the guys up front is him.
So she came up with a request. Could they please put Zach’s name across the top of the back of his pants so she could see it once in a while?
“She’s pretty funny, she can’t ever see where I’m at,” Enyeart said, laughing.
Though her request probably won’t be fulfilled, Enyeart knows there are good ways to get recognition. Already one of the most accurate and powerful long-snappers in the Pac-10, his goal for this year is to at least double the three tackles he came up with last season. Toward that goal, he lost almost 30 pounds over the summer and worked on his speed.
However, Enyeart’s role on punts, after getting the ball safely to punter Reid Forrest, isn’t to blow up the receiver.
“My job is to go straight to the ball, square up, and make him make a cut into the other guys,” said Enyeart, who is in his third year snapping for WSU.
A walk-on out of Skyline High in Sammamish, Wash., Enyeart earned a scholarship with his play last year and his effort in the spring. Unlike many long-snappers, he not only does the punting chores but also is in for extra points and field goals as well.
“The only real difference is feet placement,” Enyeart said. “With a PAT snap my feet are going to be about 6-to-8 inches wider than on a punt snap. And I don’t look (at the) snap on my punts but I look on my field goals.”
The guy Enyeart will see on field goals, junior Nico Grasu, figures significantly into the Cougars’ offensive plans. As offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy explains, some coaches define the red zone as their kicker’s effective range, with the emphasis on effective.
Enyeart thinks Grasu, whose long last year came from 47 yards, can easily connect from beyond 50. “I’ve seen him hit 65-yard field goals before,” Enyeart said. “He’s got the leg to hit big field goals.”
What Sturdy figures into his play-calling is the kicker’s consistency. And thus far this fall Grasu, who hit nine field goals – with three in the Apple Cup, including the 37-yard game-winner – in 13 attempts last season, hasn’t been all that consistent.
The Cougars will probably be even more capable at a spot no one likes to use: punter.
Forrest, a junior who came to WSU as a walk-on quarterback from Ephrata High, averaged 41.2 yards a punt last season. He’s added height, distance and accuracy over the summer, making his right leg a weapon.
“With Reid, he has the ability to turn the field over,” Sturdy said. “I think the whole thing there is offensively, don’t turn the ball over. … The bottom line is, you don’t turn it over and you punt … you’ve got a great punter, let him turn the field over for you, play defense, get the ball back and go at it again.”
“They way he’s been punting in camp,” said Enyeart, who usually looks at Forrest upside-down, “he should be up there in the Pac-10.”