PULLMAN – One football after another after another gets snapped flawlessly on extra points, field goals and punts, and no one gives a second thought to who might be delivering the ball.
Let just one snap go awry, however, and everyone in the stadium wants to know, “Who’s the lousy snapper?”
It’s one position where perfection is expected.
At Washington State, the man facing those expectations is Zach Enyeart. A junior out of Skyline High School in Sammamish, Enyeart has handled all of the long snapping duties on the Cougars’ special teams for the past two years – with very few missteps – after sharing some of the workload during his redshirt freshman year.
The affable, easygoing Enyeart makes no pretense about being some sort of elite athlete. His singular skill can be vital to a team’s success, however, and he is aware that a lucrative pro career might await him after college.
“I try not to focus on that,” Enyeart said. “I’m trying to just have a good time here with Reid (punter Reid Forrest).
“I want him at the top of the nation at the end of the year in punting average. The better he looks, the better I look.”
Both players look awfully good right now, because Forrest ranks 11th in the nation with an average of 44.7 yards per punt. Forrest says Enyeart deserves part of the credit for his success.
“He’s probably the top snapper in the league (Pacific-10 Conference). ... He’s helped me out tremendously,” Forrest said.
“I think Zach is as good as there is out there,” WSU coach Paul Wulff said. “His speed of his snap and his general accuracy is really, really good. He could probably snap in the NFL. He definitely has enough velocity to be able to do that.”
An NFL career also could be in Forrest’s future.
“Definitely, that’s a dream of mine,” said Forrest, a junior from Ephrata. “I try not to put it before my education or anything like that so it doesn’t get me overwhelmed. I just look around every day and appreciate where I’m at.”
Forrest has started for three years after redshirting for his first season in Pullman. The athleticism of punters often is questioned, but Forrest was a three-sport standout at little Ephrata High.
The son of former Cougars tight end Jim Forrest served as the quarterback, free safety and punter in football, the point guard in basketball and a center fielder and pitcher in baseball. He was a two-year captain in all three sports, and Wulff said Forrest is the rare punter who is regarded as a team leader.
Forrest said Enyeart snaps the ball with unusual velocity, which provides Forrest with valuable extra nanoseconds to launch his kicks.
“He works hard at it, too,” Forrest said. “He definitely worked hard to get where he’s at, and I appreciate that probably more than anyone.”
Enyeart went on scholarship for the first time this fall, which he finds rather amazing. After all, this is a player unknown to most fans and so buried in the middle of the line during the few moments he plays that his grandmother expressed her desire for the Cougars to sew Enyeart’s name on the seat of his football pants so she can easier locate him.
“I never, ever thought I would play college football and long snap in college,” Enyeart said. “I always thought I was a better baseball player. I loved the game of baseball so much, and I had pretty good success growing up.”
Still, Enyeart received no scholarship offers in baseball or football, although NCAA Division III Linfield expressed interest him as a center and long snapper. Enyeart was a first-team all-KingCo center on Skyline’s undefeated state champions in 2005, and he was a hard-hitting catcher and first baseman.
Encouraged by then-Skyline football coach Steve Gervais, Enyeart put together some videotapes and sent them to WSU, Washington, Oregon, Oregon State, Montana and Montana State. The Cougars and Ducks invited him to walk on, and Enyeart said it was easy to settle on the Cougars.
“Oregon had four snappers on their roster,” he said with a smile, “and WSU had none.”
The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Enyeart said he never had the slightest interest in playing on the offensive line in college for one simple reason: “I didn’t want to weigh 295 pounds.”
For Enyeart, football is a snap.
“Behind every good man is a good woman,” Forrest said, “and behind every good punter is a good snapper.”