Kameron Hawkins may not hear his name called over the public-address system this season. His name might never appear in any recap of Orange Lutheran High’s games.
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“As a long snapper, you have to do your job 100% at all times. You got to hit your marks at all times,” the 5-foot-11, 220-pound Hawkins said. “The only way people would really hear your name is if you do poorly in a game.”
Hawkins is ranked the No. 5 long snapper in the nation by Rubio Long Snapping, the nation’s preeminent authority on the skill. Hawkins has parlayed his ability to consistently hit holders and punters perfectly with snaps into a preferred walk-on opportunity at Arizona where he could potentially earn a scholarship.
He has one job that he has worked to master. It’s a simple task, but the seemingly mundane ones in football are often the most difficult to perfect. But the journey hasn’t been simple.
Hawkins initially considered the role in middle school. He was an undersized center and was looking to find his niche. He began practicing long snapping.
He went to a Rubio Long Snapping camp and fell in love with it. Hawkins’ parents warned that he would get less playing time as a long snapper and worried whether it was worth investing the time and money into playing a position to which few pay attention.
But the Hawkins family soon came around when Kameron went to another snapping camp attended by several of the top long snappers, including Johnny Den Bleyker, who was about to enter his freshman year at UCLA on a full football scholarship.
“My parents were like, if you get better at this, this could work out for you,” Hawkins said. “You could go to college, earn your degree and you can set yourself up for the next 40 years, so that’s what made us decide that we could go full time with this long-snapping thing and fully committed to it.”
Hawkins’ technique began to get better. His snap grew more consistent, traveling smoothly and in a tighter spiral. He worked hard with the Orange Lutheran strength and conditioning coaches to improve his athleticism for punt coverage.
“Watching him snap a ball is almost hypnotic since every single snap is the exact same ... darn near perfection,” Rubio wrote in an evaluation of Hawkins. “Body is getting stronger and he is getting much better on his feet. Incredible improvement with his athleticism over the last two years.”
Finding an opportunity can be tough for long snappers. They have to seek out opportunities while top prospects at other positions have college coaches contacting them incessantly.
“You got to put yourself out there,” Hawkins said. “You’re not like a QB or a wide receiver where like if you have good plays and you post it ... you get hype. Long snappers, I mean, you have to put yourself out there, like here you go. Here’s an email. Here’s my film. Look at me.
Hawkins went to multiple colleges this summer to perform at specialist camps. Rubio informed him which schools were seeking scholarship long snappers, which were looking for a preferred walk-on and which had spots for a preferred walk-on that could become a scholarship player.
He was talking with Washington, Duke, Liberty, Vanderbilt and Arizona, but when Arizona special teams coach Jeremy Springer offered him a spot, Hawkins jumped at the opportunity.
“For someone like coach Springer to offer me, I took a lot of pride in it,” Hawkins said. “Arizona was a good fit for me for snapping-wise and for academic-wise and athletic-wise too. I went up to a game. The environment was crazy. The fans were crazy. All the hype was real. And all the coaches were fantastic.”