With a 2018-19 recruiting class that includes cornerback prospects like Derek Stingley and Raydarious Jones, LSU’s reputation as “DBU” is well-assured for the foreseeable future.
But I put it to you LSU football fans and recruitniks the world over, maybe LSU should simply be LSU — as in Long Snapper University.
Buford High, in a tree-filled suburb northeast of Atlanta, is certainly making its mark as Long Snapper High. The football program at Buford has definitely become a long snapper pipeline for LSU. It has sent the brothers Ferguson to Baton Rouge — Reid, now with the Buffalo Bills, and Blake, currently a Tigers junior — and now Quentin Skinner, or “Mad Dog” to his friends and family.
Skinner was part of LSU’s highly lauded early signing day haul of prospects that has the Tigers ranked in the 247Sports.com top five.
Skinner — pardon me, Mad Dog — isn’t a player who is pushing LSU’s class ranking toward the top of the charts like The Dunham School’s Stingley, Destrehan running back John Emery or Southern Lab guard Kardell Thomas. He is a three-star prospect, not ranked on any of the blue chip lists with the quarterbacks and running backs and linebackers.
The early signing period is open. Follow live as the next crop of Tigers sign their national letters of intent and the LSU 2019 recruiting cla…
It’s the nature of the long snapper position. You don’t notice them until something goes wrong. But his long snapper coach says Skinner is not one to let things go wrong.
Yes, there are people who make a living as a long snapper coach. Well, at least one. His name is Chris Rubio, and he travels the country running long-snapper camps (see rubiolongsnapping.com if you don’t believe me) filled with about a thousand prospects per year.
Skinner is actually the nation’s No. 2-rated long snapper according to 247Sports.com. But Rubio said Skinner, much like the Fergusons before him, is the very best.
“Mad Dog is a different breed,” Rubion said. “He’s one of those guys who looks like he’s making the same snap over and over. It almost looks fake. The kid is just a machine.”
Skinner started attending Rubio’s camp at age 9, in the relative shadow of Blake Ferguson. Rubio said he has video of them working alongside each other, 12-year old Blake and 9-year old Quentin.
But why Mad Dog?
“From that first day, Quentin always had that grimace on his face,” Rubio said. “I asked him, ‘Are you trying to Mad Dog me?’ From that point on, it kind of stuck.”
Even Quentin’s father refers to him as Mad Dog now.
“It a fine nickname,” Skinner said proudly. “I just respond to what people call me.”
The Fergusons’ experience at LSU made Skinner curious about the school. Like a lot of recruits and college football purists, it was Saturday night in Tiger Stadium that had him hooked.
“We went to LSU, Alabama, Georgia” on visits, Skinner said. “The one I was most intrigued with every year was LSU. The way the coaches interacted with the players and the facilities and the environment.
“Saturday night in Death Valley is indescribable. It’s mind-blowing.”
Sort of like Skinner’s snaps on place-kicks and punts. There are several factors that go into being a good long snapper, Rubio said, and Skinner has them all.
“There’s mentality, how you handle pressure,” Rubio said. “The better a kid gets, the more pressure I put on them. Can Mad Dog snap it in Death Valley? No question.
“Speed is number two. From 15 yards on a punt snap the ball has to be from you to the punter’s hands in .75 seconds. Third is accuracy. You’ve got to make the (punt) snap from the lowest rib to mid thigh. Fourth is consistency. The rhythm has to be smooth, so the punter can anticipate it. Athleticism and size comes into play as well.”
At 6-foot-1, 260 pounds, Skinner has the size to stop the players trying to rush past him and block kicks. To him, form and technique must wed with the right physical attributes.
“What I think makes a good long snapper is someone who can snap it in the same place over and over,” he said. “You have to be athletic and fast and strong, be able to move on your feet. A good long snapper has impeccable form, someone who practices daily.”
It’s that mindset that Skinner hopes takes him one day from Buford to LSU to the NFL, like Reid Ferguson.
“One of my long-term dreams is to snap in the NFL,” Skinner said, “in the Super Bowl.”
When Skinner’s day at LSU is finally done, does Buford High have anyone else in the pipeline to send to Baton Rouge?
“I’ve got an eighth-grader and a freshman I’m working with,” Rubio said.
Long Snapper U. eagerly awaits the next.