Utah football: After four years, Patrick Greene finds the game is a snap
Utah long snapper Patrick Greene was running off the field, exuberant that he'd been a part of a tackle against Georgia Tech in last year's Sun Bowl, when he heard a familiar voice scream down at him.
"The stadium was pretty quiet, and I could hear my dad yell, 'Hey, you got a stat,' " Greene remembers.
That's life when you are a long snapper, which might be the most thankless job in college football. While others are exalted for their broken-field runs, earn all-conference honors for their defensive plays or make game-winning kicks, Greene and his brethren live for moments such as the one in El Paso, moments that maybe only dads notice.
"Snapping is like driving a Honda Accord," said Chris Rubio, a private snapping coach who has worked with Greene. "You may not pick up the ladies with it, but it's going to start every time and get you where you want to go."
Alas, Greene was robbed from any official glory in that bowl game. The official statistics never listed him as being part of a tackle.
Not a big deal to Greene. After all, he is accustomed to living in obscurity, which normally is a good thing.
"You don't notice those guys until they screw up," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "If they are unnoticed, that is a good thing because it means they are doing their job exactly as it is needed to be done."
Since you've probably never heard of Greene, suffice it to say he has done a great job for the Utes. So on a day when it's time to give thanks, let's give Greene a little well-earned love for holding down one of the most overlooked jobs in football.
The senior from Monrovia, Calif., has 503 snaps during his college career, including 103 this year. Consistent plays? Yes, he has delivered. Big plays? Well, the guy who has spent the majority of his career peering backward between his legs doesn't have many plays that even are memorable to him.
"I think I have about 10 tackles in my career, that is about it," Greene said. "Last year I recovered a fumble and got to snap the game-winning field goal at Washington State, so that was probably my most memorable moment."
Greene became a long snapper because you guessed it no one else wanted to do it. Greene, a former baseball player who helped his high school team win a state title in 2006, easily learned the snapping motion.
"I started in sixth grade during pee wee football because I was the only one who knew how to do it, and it went all the way through high school," he said. "It was a combination of being the only one who knew how to do it/the only one who wanted to do it. But I am playing in college, so it worked out."
When it came time to decide on a school, Greene looked up which teams might need a long snapper. Seeing Utah was going to have a vacancy, he contacted the Utes and was welcomed aboard.
Greene has held the job ever since.
"You want someone who comes in and you keep them going for four years," Whittingham said. "You don't want to be changing snappers a lot, and we've had a lot of continuity and stability with that guy."
Fans might not value the position, but coaches do so much so that the Utes already have offered a scholarship to a would-be successor.
Chase Dominguez, a senior at Orange Lutheran in Orange, Calif., committed to the Utes earlier this week.
He turned down offers from UCLA, Oregon and Washington State, according to Rubio, who is based in California and coached Dominguez as well as Greene.
He rated Dominguez as the No. 4 snapper in the country, something that excited him but understandably didn't exactly light up the social media message boards that normally hang onto such details.
While others may have shied away from becoming long snappers, Greene feels he has gotten the last laugh in some respects. He earned a scholarship that funded his schooling for a degree in economics, made some good friends and hasn't been too taxed by practice, like some of his teammates.
"It's one of the easiest jobs in football," he said. "Practice-wise, I'm not banging heads every play. But at the same time, I do miss being a linebacker and running out there like I did in high school."
The Utes have others who can do that job. As for long snappers, they have just one task. And the Utes are very thankful for him.
"He is a solid, steady performer for us," Whittingham said. "He is a really good guy."
A good guy, even if he doesn't show up in the stats.
Patrick Greene file
• 6-foot-2, 231 pounds, Sr.
Notes • Awarded a scholarship in 2010 after walking on. ... Has played in every game since he was a freshman. ... All-league baseball and football player at Monrovia High. ... Snaps for all field goals, punts and PATs.
Utah's Patrick Greene has played in every game since he was a freshman and handled all the snapping duties in the kicking game for 503 snaps to date. Here is a breakdown of his snaps.