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October 17, 2014 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-10-17

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8A Friday, October 17, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

The starter you don't notice on Saturday

Daily Sports ditor
The specialists are the first
players out on the field prior to
Michigan football gmes, about
an hour before the team runs
out and touches the banner.
If you arrive early, you watch
kicker Matt Wile and punter Will
Hagerup intently, to see if they
look ready to make the plays that
could determine the game.
But there's another specialist
on the field, one you don'tee.
He's just as responsible for the
success of the Wolverines' special
teams, but he might as well be
invisible He stands 14 y rds in
front of Hagerup, legs spread
apart andthe football in between,
laces up. He hunches over and
throttles the ball through his
legs, a tight spiral directli into
Hagerup's right hip.
He plays the most specialized
position in football, the one were
success is expected so often hat
it goes unrecognized, but the
slightest mistake - even if it'sjust
a couple of inches - can draw the
scrutiny of an entire fan base.5
He's touched the ball on 42 6f
Michigan's 152 points this season,
but he couldn't be happier that
you don't notice him.
He's Scott Sypniewski,
Michigan's redshirt freshman
long snapper, and he hopes you
never say his name during games.
"If I could run onto the field
and run off and no one know I
was even there, that's a job well
done for me," Sypniewski said.
Itwouldtake onlyone snap over
Hagerup's head for Sypniewski's
anonymity to disappear.
That's why Sypniewski treats
every snap the same, whether
it's a game-winning field goal
attempt at Rutgers or a second-
quarter punt against Appalachian
State when the Wolverines
already have a sizeable lead.
He has one goal on every
play: a perfect snap. On punts,

Sypniewski's subtle inaccuracies
when other coaches might not.
"He notices when I screw up
because he also knows what it
is to: screw up, too," Sypniewski
But Hoke also notices when
Sypniewski is doing well. After
Michigan's win over Penn State
in which Wile made three field
goals, Hoke noted Sypniewski
and the rest of the unit when
asked about his kicker's success.
"So we're really, really, really
excited, and you forget" about
Scott Sypniewski, the snapper,"
Hoke said. "You -forget about
Kenny Allen, who holds, and
how much they work together
every day and how successful he
was and a lot of it starts there,
No matter how well
Sypniewski. does, the attention
will always go to the person he's
snappingto. Wile earned Big Ten
Co-Special Teams Player of the
Week, but even he acknowledged
that his kicking is the final
product of the work of the unit.
Sypniewski is satisfied to labor
in the realm of the unknown, he's
too focused on the task at hand.
He doesn't partake in elaborate
celebrations after touchdowns
because he doesn't want to be too
excited and make a mistake on
the snap.
He spends the majority of his
time on the sidelines preparing
for the next time he needs to go
out -onto the field. He snaps to
Allen, Hagerup or the portable
net adjacent to Michigan's bench.
When the likelihood of a kick
increases, Sypniewski advances
toward the field.
When it's time for the kick,
he runs onto the field, makes the
snap and runs off.
Hopefully you don't notice.
Ready for Slippery Rock?
Check MichiganDaily.com
Saturday the day for coverage.

Redshirt freshman long snapper Scott Sypniewski isn't often recognized for his crucial role on special teams, which is jsot the way he prefers to go about it:

that entails sending the ball to
Hagerup's right hip. On field
goals, perfection is hitting holder
Kenny Allen in the palm of his
right hand while he holds it out
as a target before quickly turning
the ball over.
repetition -
Sypniewski. "Youj
He's been
snapping since about
seventh grade
when his youth Sypniev
team needed
someone toplay snap
the position. He
figured it was -
just another
way to getcon the field.
When he reached his junior
year of high school, he began

to see the position.as a route to
earning a college scholarship
even though he also played guard
and outside linebacker.
His father was a center
at Western Michigan in the
1980s when Michigan coach
Brady *Hoke,
forget Greg Mattison
and special
Scott teams
vski, the Dan Ferrigno
coached there.
per Sypniewski
saw the toll
that battling
in the trenches
took on his father's body. Playing
long snapper would incur less

Because of his father's
knowledge of snapping the
football, Sypniewski worked with
him at a turf facility each day
during his junior and senior years
of high school, taking between
20 to 5t snaps. The monotony of
the job might bore other players,
but Sypniewski focused on taking
perfect snaps, not just snapping
the ball for the sake of doing it.
The recruiting process for long
snappers is the same as it is for
every other position. Sypniewski
attended - numerous camps to
get his name out there. His high
school in Illinois was small and
few college coaches attended
games. But the offer Sypniewski
wanted came from the people
who already knew his name:
the trio who coached his father
in college that now coached at

Many were . surprised the,
Wolverines offered a coveted
scholarship spotto alongsnapper.
Long snappers operate. in the.
shadows on many teams, away
from the watchful eye of coaches
who either lack the knowledge to
coach the position or are too busy
with other responsibilities.
The opposite is the case at
Michigan. In addition to playing
linebacker during his playing
career at Ball State, Hoke was
a long snapper. He places a
premium on the position, the
reason he chooses to assign
scholarships to longsnappers.
Hoke pays close attention
to Sypniewski during practice,
and games, helping him along
throughout his first year as
a starter. Hoke recognizes


- Maryland, Rutgers
. add depth to BIG

Levert handling spotlight*

14 Big
Big Te
the stt
was th
As D
Four 1
won t
both s
Ten pi
10 spa
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and Ni
Ten to
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11 here
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see th.
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in the
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By JACOB GASE has a national championship
Daily Sports Writer under her belt. She's won Coach
of the Year awards in every
EMONT, Ill. - As all conference she has coached in.
Ten women's basketball Rutgers coach C. Vivian
s gathered for the annual Stringer is an even bigger legend,
n Media Day near Chicago, with her 929 career wins trailing
tryline on everyone's mind only Tennessee's Pat Summit on
e conference's two newest the all-time list. Each coach also
ers: Maryland and Rutgers. has previous Big Ten experience
Maryland comes off a Final - Frese coached Minnesota for
berth and Rutgers having one season in 2001-2002, while
he WNIT Championship, Stringer spent 1983-1995 at Iowa.
quads sp into an already- "They're both Hall of Fame
'titive conference as instant coaches in my opinion," Barnes
iders. More than any other Arico said. "And top programs
in recent memory, the Big in the country (with) returning
cture is wide open. (players). Rutgers is returning
Michi#n coach Kim everybody and they have a couple
s Arico cnows all about of All-Americans on their team.
ig to staX afloat in a tightly So I think those two teams will
ted @ conference. In her definitely add strength to our
sons as head coach at St. conference. No doubt aboutit."
Barnes Arico racked up But Barnes Arico is quick to
ol re rd 176 wins in the point out that the Big Ten's more
efunc Big East, which tenured members can't be taken
ed perennial national title lightly either. Nebraska, Michigan
iders such as Connecticut State, Iowa, and Minnesota all
otre Dame. finished above the Wolverines
s year, she expects the Big in the Big Ten last season and
be just as much of a battle are returning most their key
days on the East Coast. starters, who might e able to
the time I left (St. John's), surprise the newcomers.
wer, eight teams going "Ithink Rutgers and Maryland,
NCAA tournament," by the end of the season, will
Arico say 'oh my
"(We goodness,"'
teams Barnes Arico
the "I thmk those said. "Because
ship two teams will I know I did
iid year W after my first
d teams definitely add season here.
far in theThis league is
ament. strength to our incredible."
how I , In the face
e Big Ten Conference. of the tough
ow." competition,
Barnes Barnes Arico is
s opinion, optimistic that
g the Terrapins and Scarlet Michigan will come out motivated
ts to the mix is the first step rather than overwhelmed.
Big Ten's ascent to one "When you play in such a tough
best women's basketball league, your preparation is going
ences in the country. And to be tough every day," she said.
teams enter the Big Ten "But I think part of the reason
some of the strongest that kids come to the University of
ship a team could ask for. Michigan is to have an opportunity
ryland coach Brenda Frese to play against the best."

Daity Sports Wricer
ROSEMONT, Ill. - A beefed-
up Caris LeVert arrived at Thurs-
day's Big Teri Basketball Media
Day without
braces, and. he NOTEBOOK
got to show off
his smile after being named to
the Preseason All-Big Ten team
by the media.
Thejunior guard is joined on
the team by Indiana guard Yogi
Ferrell, Wisconsin forward Sam
Dekker, Nebraska forward Ter-
ran Petteway and Wisconsin
forward Frank Kaminsky, who
was voted the Big Ten Preseason
Player of the Year.
During a breakout campaign
in 2013-14, LeVert averaged 12.9
points and 4.3 rebounds while
emerging as a secondary scor-
ing threat behind Nik Stauskas.
LeVert shot43.9 percentfromthe
field and will see more attention
this season as he tries to keep
Michigan's young team steady in
a deep Big Ten.
"He was in (the spotlight) a bit
last year," said Michigan coach
John Beilein. "There were sev-
eral games where we just went to
him because people were doing
things with Nik or Glenn (Rob-
inson III).
"I love his personality because
he doesn't let things bother him
very much, so I don't think he
gets too excited or gets too wor-
ried about either situation."
The Wolverines didn't make
the media's preseason top three,
which. included unanimous
favorite Wisconsin, followed by
Ohio State and Michigan State.
COME WAGON: Thursday
marked the first Big Ten Media
Day for Rutgers and Maryland,
and the new league members
both expressed their excitement
to get started.
"I've followed a lot of these
coaches for a long time, fol-
lowed the programs, so I know
they're all excellent coaches,"
said Maryland coach Mark Tur-
geon. "Arguably, it'sbeenthebest
league in the country the last
four or five years. So, with that


Junior guard Caris LeVert is expected to handle a bigger role on the Michigan offense, and he's handling that just fine.

said, there's a lot of anticipation
going into it, and we're looking
forward to it."
The Terrapins join the Big Ten
from the Atlantic Coast Confer-
ence, another basketball pow-
erhouse, and project to be the.
better of the two new members.
Maryland finished 17-15 last sea-
son and features former Wolver-
ine forward Evan Smotrycz as a
key contributor.
As they proved with an upset
win over then-No. 5 Virginia in
2014, the Terrapins are a talented
group. They return 10 members
of last year's team, and while
they could have a tough time
consistently competing with the
conference's elite, they're capa-
ble of turningheads.
Rutgers, on the other hand,
could face a much steeper battle
in its Big Ten debut.
The Scarlet Knights went
12-21 last year in coach Eddie
Jordan's first season at the helm
and are expected to finish near
the bottom of the conference.
Jordan, though, says it's all part
of a greater development process.

"We know where we're com-
ing from," he said. "Even last
year, we thought the process was
successful - the first stage of it.
We were picked last.in our con-
ference. We were seventh. People
thought we would win eight or
nine games. We won 12. So we
feel our kids competed with
(class), and that was the first part
of the process.
"We understand we're going
to a tougher league, and the sec-
ond part of the process is to get
better players, which we think .
we did, to be competitive and to
meet the opponent eye to eye and
play with harmony and effort.
That's the second part of the pro-
cess, and we think we're doing ok
with that."
Beilein hinted Thursday at what
many have expected for his
front-court plans. While he has
yet to give any indication as to
who will start at center, he gave
some insight on what to look for
from freshman forward Kam-
eron Chatman.
"He's got a great chance to

start at one of our forward posi-
tions," Beilein said. "He's a very
natural ball handler and really
proven to be a very good shooter
thus far. I'm very optimistic he
can give us quality minutes from
day to day."
One thing Chatman could do
for the Wolverines is provide
much-needed rebounding help.
LeVert led the team in defensive
rebounds last season, pulling
in 141 boards from the guard
And while Chatmanis still fill-
ing out his frame, Beilein thinks
he will be a useful contributor.
"His body is changing daily,"
Beilein said. "I don't think you'll
see his true body until the next
couple years. He's not afraid to
go in (for a rebound) and he's got
great hands and instincts for the
Beilein has not decided in
which position - the '3' or the '4'
- he will play Chatman, but said
he will decide based on a variety
of factors, including defensive
ability and how he runs the ball

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