Notre Dame commit John Shannon earns Army All-American Bowl bid

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

John Shannon’s job consists of two core responsibilities:

1. Do your job perfectly.

2. Get off the field.

Though they may seem like conflicting attributes, a long snapper’s directive is both shockingly simple and incredibly complex. He must be able to do one thing with robotic precision, over and over and over, regardless of his surroundings or the situation in a game. Be it a wet football or a hostile road crowd or a lingering injury hampering your technique, the result must always be the same.

Do it perfectly.

Get off the field.

Thus far, Shannon — a 6-foot-2, 225-pound rising senior at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Ill. — has followed those guidelines closely enough to earn scholarship offers from West Virginia, Army and Notre Dame, the same school where his father and grandfather both played football. And last weekend, the Irish commit’s consistent approach garnered another accolade.

A spot in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January.

“That was always a goal of mine that I set a while ago,” Shannon said. “I knew some guys in the class ahead of me that played in the Army game, so it was always something that I wanted to do. Obviously it’s really prestigious and it’s a huge honor to play in the game, so that was something that was always on my mind.”

To earn his spot, Shannon had to best the competition at the Top Gun Camp in Dublin, Ohio, where the best snappers in the country contended for two available bids.

The difference, in the end, was Shannon’s unique combination of form and power.

“It almost looks like he’s angry and trying to hurt the punter. When he gets over the ball, he explodes,” said nationally renowned snapping coach Chris Rubio. “He’s methodical. He just rips the ball back there. He snaps the ball as hard as I’ve had a kid snap in a long time.”

Added Rubio: “Snapping is all about form, and that kid has worked on his form over and over and over. With his raw power and strength, it’s just unstoppable. That’s why he went out there at the Top Gun camp and just absolutely crushed it.”

In the camp, like in a game, Shannon zoned out outside pressure in favor of crisp, consistent routine.

“If I’m in a competition, (I think about) nothing at all,” he said. “But if I’m practicing, that’s when I’m really thinking about certain angles, or really particular things that I have to fix.

“But when I’m in a game, I’m not thinking about any of that. I’m just thinking about a perfect snap, and that’s pretty much it.”

Perfect. It isn’t difficult to spot the theme. Though Shannon has only been attending snapping camps for a couple years, his training — which includes snapping six to seven days a week ahead of major camps — is a methodical ritual designed to weed out the occasional flaw.

“I started in seventh grade. I didn’t start doing camps until freshman year, though,” Shannon explained. “It was just something where I started screwing around with my friends, and the next thing I know I’m going to camps and I’m getting scholarship offers. It just sort of snowballed in a good way.

“It was something that I found out that I was good at and I stuck to it, and it seemed to work out for me pretty well.”

Soon, Notre Dame may also be reaping the benefits. Shannon, who Rubio ranks as the No. 1 snapper in the 2016 class, also plays linebacker at Loyola Academy, and will do so for one more season.

But in South Bend, his focus will shift exclusively to snapping — and hopefully, perfection.

“I think of my long snappers like assassins,” Rubio said. “You have one job, you have to do it perfect and if you’re not perfect, everyone notices. It’s one of those things where you’ve got to be mentally strong, and at the Top Gun camp, he was extremely mentally strong.”

Notre Dame commit John Shannon earned a spot in the Army All-American Bowl as a long snapper. (Photo courtesy of Rubio Long Snapping)