Wheeling, W.Va. – One of the most underrated positions in all of football is the long snapper. When they’re good at their job, you never hear their name, however, if they’re wrong, it’s front and center in the next day’s headlines. Over the past two seasons, junior redshirt Shane Tomlin handled Wheeling University’s long slamming duties and was automatic every time he took the field. Playing college football was the culmination of a lifelong dream for Tomlin that began when he was five years old in St. Clairsville, Ohio.
Tomlin’s father played college football at Rutgers University and instilled his love for the game in Shane. He started playing the sport in third grade and immediately fell in love with the game. He played both the offensive and defensive line growing up but, by the time he got to high school, he was sitting a bit more 5’0 and weighed about 120 lbs. Tomlin wanted to get on the court as soon as possible and after doing some research his dad found Rubio Long Snapping. Tomlin went to his first camp in the spring of 2015 in a move that would end up being a life-changing decision.
“I didn’t really understand what a long snapper was, but I loved the idea of playing a position that didn’t care about size,” Tomlin said. “I went to my first Rubio camp in the spring of 2015, right after my freshman season, and Chris Rubio and current (San Francisco) 49ers snapper Taybor Pepper helped me out all day. I’ll never forget what I felt after camp, and I knew I wanted to get to a position where I could help other snappers feel that.”
The following year, Tomlin spent most of the year as the Long Snapper of St. John’s High School and began to attract interest from smaller colleges. Tomlin never expected to be able to play college football, even though it was a dream of his. He would go out and buy a catch target so he could practice at home and go all out to be a long snapper. He continued to go to Rubio Long Snapping camps and this time took lessons with Liam McCullough, Atlanta Falcons Long Snapper. He would transfer to St. Clairsville High School for his freshman year, determined to improve before disaster struck.
However, he ended up suffering two knee injuries in two months that required surgery and forced him to miss his entire junior season. As soon as he could, Tomlin was back and determined to return for his senior year, even taking a trip to Idaho for a private lesson with Chris Rubio. However, late in the summer, Tomlin hit another roadblock as he re-injured his knee. The doctor recommended surgery but warned Tomlin that he might never be the same player again.
“My recruiting was at a standstill once I got injured, and I really thought I wouldn’t be playing after high school, the focus I had since I was five seemed to be gone,” Tomlin said. . “My dad and I talked to the doctor, and he decided that if I wore a brace, got a bandage, and went to rehab every day, I could play my senior year. is that I could only smash. I wasn’t cleared for cutting or agility work, so I would have to be a full-time snapper.”
Tomlin loved the idea and presented it to his high school coach, who agreed, and Tomlin began to become a full-time long snapper. He played his first full season in high school during his senior year and had surgery as soon as the season ended. He would commit to playing at Mount Union for the 2018 season and helped the Purple Raiders to be national runners-up in 2018. Tomlin committed to playing football at an even higher level and began looking to the ranks of the NCAA Division II.
He took a year off football, and after the hit of COVID in 2020, he saw his career at a crossroads again. He was looking to do a highlight tape for colleges to see his catching abilities and contacted a former teammate who put him in touch with Wheeling University.
“After a year without football, I was again in a position where I never expected to play again,” Tomlin said. “I was incredibly frustrated and thought about giving up, but decided to make one last attempt to get back on the field. I contacted my high school kicker/kicker. Matthew Greenwood to see if he wanted to take live shots for me so I could put together a highlight tape. He accepted and told me that Wheeling might have a place for me. I put my tape together, contacted the coaches and received an offer shortly after.”
Tomlin’s first season with the Cardinals came in the spring of 2021 in what he called the longest 852 days of his life. Since then, Tomlin has handled all the long snapping tasks and built a relationship with fellow specialists in Wheeling, Greenwood and Trey Brady. He was recognized by the CFBNetwork this summer when he was named to the All-MEC Preseason Team as Long Snapper.
Even during his playing days, Tomlin continues to work with the Rubio Long Snapping Camp and in 2021 became a Certified Rubio Long Snapping Instructor. This gives him the opportunity to work with children who become Long Snappers while teaching them the job.
“As a Certified Rubio Long Snapping Instructor, I am able to work at Rubio Long Snapping Camps across the country and can also teach one-on-one lessons,” Tomlin said. “I have the opportunity to work with snappers from middle school through high school. These lessons, depending on the snapper, can involve learning the very basics of catching the ball, fine-tuning form, or anything in between. I am there throughout the recruitment process as well as to answer questions. This aspect is equally important to me, as I had a very confusing path to where I am now and I can offer excellent insight.
In 2022, Tomlin will enter his third season as Wheeling University’s long snapper, handling all punt and field goal duties throughout the season. The long snapping is a position that helped Tomlin realize his dreams of playing college football and that’s why he’s so proud to be a certified Rubio Long Snapping snapper and instructor.
“Anyone who plays in college loves the game, but it’s really my life,” Tomlin said. “My closest friends all came from football, and the best and worst times of my life came from the game. Years of uncertainty have taught me to be ready for whatever life throws at you and to never give up. “That’s why being a Long Snapper means so much to me. Without this position and the people who have supported me throughout my journey, my career would have ended years ago.”