Alabama has landed another prospect rated No. 1 overall at his position, but this time, it’s not at quarterback, running back or wide receiver.
Thomas Fletcher, the top long snapper in the country, has committed to the Crimson Tide.
Fletcher, who attends powerhouse IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., told SEC Country that Florida State was his runner-up. He did not decide on Alabama until last week.
The U.S. Army All-American hails from Vancouver, Wash. He ended up moving to Georgetown, Texas, before he moved to Florida for his senior year of high school. The main reason why he chose Alabama was because of how much Tuscaloosa reminded him of Vancouver.
“Honestly, it reminds me so much of the Northwest,” Fletcher said. “Obviously, they are completely different cultures. Trust me, it could not be any more different, culture-wise. But the greenery, the mountains in Alabama, the water just reminded me so much of home. Then you combine that with Alabama being an SEC school and the Southern culture, it’s a killer combination.”
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound recruit grew up fishing, hunting and going to the lake, which he says are a lot of the same activities that many Crimson Tide players enjoy doing — another way in which Tuscaloosa reminded him of Vancouver.
“It’s a school — and a lot of schools are like this — I can see myself going there if I wasn’t playing football,” Fletcher said. “I believe I could definitely enjoy myself both with school and football at Alabama.”
How does a long snapper end up on scholarship for the reigning national champions? Let his snapping coach Chris Rubio tell you how good Fletcher is.
“I am tempted to say I have never had a long snapper this polished at this age,” Rubio said, according to his website. “Any school that doesn’t offer him is just wrong. Plain and simple. You will not find a better 2017 long snapper in the country. He has it all — speed, accuracy, consistency. He can block and he handles pressure better than anyone I have ever had. He is the epitome of a no-brainer.”
Alabama didn’t offer Fletcher, the son of Tom Fletcher, who played for the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks, the first time it saw him. He attended the team’s special teams camp in 2015 and left without an offer. Nick Saban told him at the time that he needed to gain more weight. That’s exactly what Fletcher did. When he attended the team’s camp earlier this month, he showed up 55 pounds heavier, which led to the Crimson Tide offering him.
Fletcher was rated the No. 1 snapper in the country at the time he showed up to Alabama’s camp last year, but what motivated him to get better was the opportunity for what came on June 6 — the scholarship offer from Saban.
“He told me this time last year that I wasn’t big enough to block SEC guys,” Fletcher said. “That was just the reality. He was very consistent throughout the whole process with what he needed to see out of me. People ask me who I’m supposed to compare myself to when I’ve been the No. 1 snapper in the country for two years. I’m always competing against the guy I haven’t met who is better than me. It would be devastating to me to lose that No. 1 ranking.”
Fletcher knows that once he gets to college, he may become virtually unknown because of the position he plays. He’s perfectly OK with that reality. In fact, he would prefer that.
“Mistakes are no more drastic than when they are made by a specialist,” Fletcher said. “There are people all over Twitter, and I hear about it every single day, ‘Why would you waste an offer on a long snapper?’ Would you rather feel comfortable punting out of your own end zone in a national championship game or would you rather the ball go out of the back of the end zone for a safety?
“Hopefully, no one hears my name for four years because that means I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. The only reason why someone knows the name of a long snapper is when they mess up, and it usually upsets a lot of people.”
Fletcher becomes Alabama’s 15th commitment in the Class of 2017. The Crimson Tide is still ranked No. 2 in the team rankings, behind the Ohio State Buckeyes.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Chris Kirschner covers Alabama football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Bryant-Denny.