MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The long snapper, while having one of the most critical roles on an entire football team, is a position that usually appears insignificant and goes seemingly unnoticed.
But when the Liberty Flames came to Morgantown, everyone noticed something different when the Mountaineers special teams unit came onto the field. The No. 46 jersey carrying the name “Meadows” took over the starting long snapper role for the first time.
Nick Meadows, a preferred walk-on, got the unexpected opportunity when starting long snapper John DePalma was unable to perform due to a pulled back.
“A lot went through my mind. I didn’t think this situation (starting) was going to come this early but it did,” said Meadows. “I just had to cease the opportunity.”
This was Meadows first chance to step out onto Mountaineer Field as a starter. He actually had no idea he was going to be playing that day until moments before kickoff.
“It was my first time going out there and starting a game. It was an amazing experience,” he said. “I’m just on the sideline in my own little world, just visualizing snapping the ball and going through my head everything I gotta do, snapping the ball, and everything.”
Originally from Williamstown, W.Va., Meadows says there’s just something special about being a long snapper, and that not just anybody can play the position no matter how easy it may look.
“It’s an art,” he said. “It’s just a special thing. It’s hard. It’s harder than people think…I actually started snapping in pee-wee football. The coaches said, “You’re gonna be the center, you’re gonna be the long snapper,” and I just kept doing it. I just kept doing it from there on out.”
According to Meadows, the Mountaineers special teams unit has a unique bond. Kicker Mike Molina, another redshirt sophomore, and Meadows have become close friends. Both young-guns have started off the 2015-16 season by seeing playing time.
“Me and Mike (Molina) are really good friends. We’re like brothers and we stick together and we’re there for each other and it’s a close bond. We’re like a family inside of this big family,” he said, speaking of the entire specialist unit.
Following the Liberty game, Meadows was named the Special Teams Champion for his contributions in the 41-17 win. With two years of eligibility remaining after this season, this is only the beginning.
“It means everything, coming out of West Virginia,” Meadows said about his opportunity to wear the old gold and blue and represent his home state. “I grew up idolizing West Virginia everything because this is West Virginia’s professional sport. I mean, it means everything to me.”