LAFAYETTE — Matt Rosenbalm feels almost like a king these days, playing a game he loves amid the numerous outdoor attractions in Louisiana’s sportsman’s paradise.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette deep snapper is not only performing at a position for which he feels naturally suited, but also gets to enjoy the abundant hunting and fishing opportunities available offshore and in the nearby Atchafalaya Basin.
It’s no accident Rosenbalm, one of ULL’s 18 senior players, chose to play in Lafayette.
Family ties sparked Rosenbalm’s interest in the Cajuns, but the hunting and fishing sealed the deal.
“I always knew that I wanted to come here,” said Rosenbalm, a native of Cumming, Ga. “I figured I could go hunting or fishing every day. When I was younger, I would come here in the summers and we would go fishing at a camp in Grand Isle.
“My uncle has a hunting lease down in the marshes at Creole where I can go hunting. For me, it’s either fishing speckled trout or redfish in the summer or hunting in winter.”
Early Tuesday morning after a cold front blew through Louisiana, Rosenbalm and ULL starting center Andre Huval were up before a frigid and windy sunrise looking for ducks in an area just north of Lafayette.
“We saw a lot of birds, but the dog we had with us kind of screwed things up, so we didn’t hit anything,” Rosenbalm said.
On the football field, Rosenbalm said he has perhaps the best job on the team.
“It’s great for me, just to be part of the team,” he said. “I love football. I’m not the best athlete in the world, but if I can do one thing, I think I’ve got that.
“I mean, it’s great. I do less than any of the other positions. I do snapping during a couple of (practice) periods, and in the end I get to reap all the rewards and not do as much work,” he said.
After two seasons as ULL’s primary deep snapper, Rosenbalm has specialized more this season as a short snapper for kicker Brett Baer.
Rosenbalm can’t recall ever sending a poor snap to a ULL punter or placement holder, although the Cajuns muffed an extra-point attempt in last Saturday’s 52-30 win over South Alabama.
“I honestly can’t tell you what happened on that snap. The ball just got away and was probably a little wobbly, maybe because of the wind. But when the ball was kicked, laces were outward,” Rosenbalm said.
Rosenbalm’s deep snapping began in middle school and continued during his football career at Forsyth General High School.
In high school, his coach held deep snapping tryouts and Rosenbalm, who also played on the offensive line, easily won the job.
As Rosenbalm considered his college options, he arrived at a realization.
“There wasn’t much opportunity of playing the offensive line in college for a guy who is 6-foot-2 and weighs 220 pounds,” Rosenbalm said.
When he was recruited by ULL, Rosenbalm said he assumed it was as a blocker and a snapper.
“On my first day of practice here, I’m over there with the linemen and (former) coach (Rickey) Bustle says, ‘Rosey, what are you doing over there? I brought you here to snap.’
“Ever since, that’s all I’ve ever done here,” he said.
In the meantime, Rosenbalm is always willing to discuss the different techniques used for bass fishing Georgia and Louisiana streams.