Meet the Utah Utes’ most unknown starter: Chase Dominguez

first_imgHe’s in a position where the less you hear about him the better. If you don’t hear about him, he’s doing his job just right. – Kyle WhittinghamSALT LAKE CITY — The most anonymous player on any football team is the long snapper. At least it should be. Even the largely unknown offensive linemen get occasional praise for good blocks, but you never hear about the long snapper unless he goofs up.That’s why you’ve never heard about the Utah football team’s long snapper, Chase Dominguez. He never goofs up. He has one job — to deliver a perfect snap to Tom Hackett, the Utes’ punter and holder, every time. And so far in his two years at Utah with 189 snaps on punts, field goals and PATs, Dominguez has done his job perfectly.“He’s the man,’’ says Hackett. “Me and Chase work very well together. If I ever need anything, if I ask him to hit me on the left hip or the right hip, he can do it. On field goals he snaps to me perfect as I hold for Andy. Every play he’s in, I’m in and that helps a lot to have a relationship with a teammate like that. It makes my life a lot easier.’’Head coach Kyle Whittingham, who oversees the special teams, says Dominguez makes his job easier also, never having to worry about an errant snap costing his team points or field position.“Chase is huge for our special teams,’’ said Whittingham. “He’s in a position where the less you hear about him the better. If you don’t hear about him, he’s doing his job just right. So far — knock on wood — ever since he arrived on campus, he’s been a very consistent snapper for us.’’In past years, college teams, including Utah, would try a few guys already on scholarship to see who could get the ball back to the punter or holder on a regular basis. But now it’s become a specialty and Dominguez was actually recruited to come to Utah last year from Lutheran High School in Orange, California, and was put on scholarship right away.The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Dominguez started playing football in ninth grade as a receiver and cornerback, but a year later became interested in long snapping because his best friend was a kicker. As a sophomore he started his long snapping career and that summer he attended a camp in Southern California put on by Chris Rubio, a long snapping expert who lives in Lewiston, Idaho.“He does camps all over and is the best long snapping instructor in the world,’’ said Dominguez. “He’s taught me everything I know and I’ve stuck with it.’’Out of high school, Dominguez was recruited by several major colleges and chose Utah over UCLA, this week’s Ute opponent, and Washington State, last week’s opponent. He chose Utah because of the “great atmosphere” and “the great family program’’ and said so far “it’s been a great ride.’’So what is the key to being a great long snapper?According to Dominguez, it’s really not much more than practice, practice, practice. He said he used to spend hours snapping the ball through an old tire hung from a goalpost and got to the point where he could put the ball through the small opening 10 out of every 20 times from 14 yards out.He says his stance is slightly wider on PAT and field goal attempts and that he aims for Hackett’s hand on the short snaps and his hips on the long ones. Unlike some snappers, Dominguez looks at his target the whole time, which means he has to hurry and get his head up to avoid onrushing linemen.“I’m reasonably athletic, so I can maneuver my way around them,’’ he says with a smile.To be an effective long snapper, you also have to have ice in your veins and not worry about missing your target. Also, it helps to be able to accept the fact that you’ll be perhaps the least-noticed player on the field if you do your job right.“I’m fine with that,’’ Dominguez says. “Players know my role on the team and I know my role. It’s a good way to stay under the radar. As long as Tom makes his kicks and Andy puts them through the uprights, I’ve done my job correctly.’’If this is the last time you hear Chase Dominguez’s name this season, it’ll be all right with him. It just means he’s still doing his job exactly as he’s supposed to.last_img

Post Your Comment Here

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *