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UCLA

Good Sports: It's a Snap!

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By Paul Feinberg '85, Photos by Hugh Hamilton

Published Jul 1, 2011 8:00 AM


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Kevin McDermott doesn't care that you don't know his name.

At practice while his teammates run through some violent 7-on-7s, McDermott works out of sight, peering through his legs at punter Jeff Locke, firing back snap after perfect snap. When Locke's had enough, McDermott stands alone and watches the drill, his helmet perched on his head like a pineapple, idly tossing a ball from hand to hand.

The 2011 Bruins feature a number of new faces, but none are less heralded than McDermott, a walk-on, redshirt junior long snapper whose high school highlight tape caught the attention of a UCLA coach. The new Bruin understands he'll only get headlines if he botches a crucial snap on a punt or late field goal. But his role is critical.

Like kickers, long snappers are specialists. McDermott started snapping in middle school when his coach tried out 20 guys.

"I had a knack, just taught myself," McDermott says, crediting his predecessor at UCLA, All-American Christian Yount '10, "as a great teacher" who helped him refine his skills, which range from hitting the holder in the hands on field goals to blocking and making tackles after the snap on punts.

"My dream is the same as all long snappers," he admits. "To make a tackle on a punt, force a fumble, recover it and run for a touchdown."

A political science major, the kid from Tennessee might have Hollywood as well as athletic aspirations. "I'm just starting a film minor," McDermott says. "I really enjoy films and movies." He's also getting used to Los Angeles. "It's definitely an adjustment, but I wanted to try something different."

From his vantage point, McDermott notes a difference in the team this spring. "I see a lot more energy, the tempo is really stepped up and the talent we have is really being utilized," he notes. "I really like the new coaches and I'm really excited for the season."

That enthusiasm has already paid off for the Bruins — Kevin's younger brother, Conor, has a scholarship to play offensive line for UCLA and arrives in the fall.

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