Morgan Cox, a 6-4, 226-pounder from Collierville, handled this thankless duty quite capably for the Tennessee Vols the past three years. In addition to making consistently good snaps, he contributed nine special-teams tackles.
With his collegiate eligibility exhausted, Cox recently signed a free-agent contract with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens. Bidding to become the pro team's long snapper, he faces a big challenge - emphasis on BIG - in incumbent Matt Katula. A six-year veteran from the University of Wisconsin, Katula is a 6-6, 272-pounder who has handled the long-snapping chores in 80 consecutive games since joining the Ravens as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2005.
According to Baltimoreravens.com, the team's official website, Katula boasts 22 career special-teams tackles and is an "elite long snapper" with "great speed and placement." Katula was bothered by tendinitis in his elbow last season, however, which might provide Cox with the opening he needs to win the job. Katula and Cox are the only long snappers listed on Baltimore's current roster.
Meanwhile, back on The Hill, the task of succeeding Morgan Cox apparently will fall to Nick Guess, who grew up a few minutes from UT's Knoxville campus. The 6-2, 215-pounder was ranked the No. 3 long snapper in the recruiting class of 2007 by Ray Guy's ProKicker.com.
Guess redshirted in 2007, snapped in a junior varsity game against Hargrave (Va.) Military in 2008, then rode the bench in 2009. He reportedly did a good job during spring practice, however, and is listed No. 1 heading into the summer.
Also competing for the long-snapper assignment are redshirt freshman walk-ons J. R. Carr (5-10, 215) of Lomita, Calif., and T.J. Marrs (5-10, 206) of Bluefield, Va.
Willie Bohannon, a 6-3, 238-pound scholarship sophomore who lettered as a defensive end last fall, tried a few snaps during the spring and might be a factor in the snapping derby come fall.
"I did it in high school," Bohannon said following one spring workout. "This is my first time doing it since high school.
"Probably Nick Guess will be the starter but it's always good to have special teams in your arsenal for down the road - the NFL and everything."