LARAMIE — Wyoming football cycled through long snappers in 2017, using three players at the position at different times.
If things work out for Jesse Hooper, that position could be taken care of for the next four years.
“I know talking with (special teams coach AJ) Cooper and (head coach Craig) Bohl, they’re expecting me to come in and pull my weight,” Hooper said. “I totally understand, and I’ll be doing that.”
Hooper, a long snapper out of West Jordan, Utah, verbally committed to Wyoming on Thursday.
“(Laramie) reminds me of Utah a lot, actually, and I love my home state,” Hooper said. “I’m sure most people would be like, ‘Oh, it’s Laramie.’ To me, Laramie felt like home. So from the second I got there, just how nice the people were and it’s smaller and everyone just cares about each other, so that’s what really stuck out to me.
“And they care about the football program. And that was real big. In Utah, you get a choice of what FBS program you get to like. In Wyoming, everyone in the state has the program’s back. And that’s really awesome to me.”
After Brendan Turelli served as Wyoming’s long snapper for four years, the Cowboys brought in Kolton Donovan, a Southern Utah graduate transfer, to fill the position for a season. But Donovan went down with an ACL tear in Wyoming’s first game of the year, and fullback Drew Van Maanen stepped in.
The Cowboys brought in walk-on true freshman Caleb Cantrell, but ended up using Van Maanen as the snapper for the majority of the season. But Van Maanen is a senior and Donovan doesn’t expect a medical redshirt.
“I talked with Kolton a lot,” Hooper said. “Because within this whole process, he’s kind of turned into my big brother, so I talked with him a lot, obviously, but we never really talked about how the injury was going to affect stuff like that. We just talked more about following God’s plan and whatnot.
“I guess I just kind of listened to the interviews, to Coach Bohl’s press conferences weekly to kind of see what they were doing, but I just said my prayers, and it worked out.”
The process of being recruited as a long snapper is a fairly unique one, considering most teams only devote one scholarship to the position.
“I’d say it’s a process, a process that teaches patience,” Hooper said. “I’m really thankful I got to learn that lesson, and now I have the skill of patience. I guess I still have to polish it, but I still have that skill now.”
Hooper actually got in touch with Wyoming initially by messaging Donovan. He took two unofficial visits to Wyoming, one in the summer and one for the Cowboys’ game against Hawaii.
“I think the thing that sealed the deal for Wyoming was (that) it’s real close to my home and so are all the conference games,” Hooper said. “The aspect of family that surrounds the football team is another big factor in that.”
A 6-foot, 240-pound recruit, Hooper trained at both Rubio Long Snapping and Matt Wigley Long Snapping camps.
His first scholarship offer came from Dixie State, a Division II school in Utah.
“Growing up, I’d always talked about the possibility of playing for Dixie and getting to play in front of my whole family,” Hooper said. “Because when I was younger, I wasn’t a long snapper until my sophomore year. I kind of realized I wasn’t big enough to play other positions in college.”
While he won’t be staying at home, he won’t be too far away in Laramie. And as for the long snapping position, Wyoming no doubt hopes Hooper makes a home of it.