Tyler Duzansky first gave long snapping a try last fall as his ticket to get on the football field at St. Francis.
It's punched his ticket to the Big Ten.
Duzansky, a St. Francis senior and Glen Ellyn resident, made his verbal commitment to Penn State this week as a preferred walk-on. Duzansky said he received his offer from the Nittany Lions about two weeks ago. He also had preferred walk-on offers from Ivy League programs Penn and Cornell.
Duzansky, the No. 1-ranked long snapper in the Midwest by Rubio Long Snapping, can look back with appreciation at how far his journey has taken him in a relatively short time.
"It was just my way to get on the field and help as much as I can last year; I knew that from the players on varsity I wouldn't be seeing the field as much playing those other positions," Duzansky said. "It's just a lot of hard work and dedication. At first I had no clue what I was doing. Honestly, it's just a lot of reps. That's all it is, is repetitions."
Duzansky first got into contact with nationally-recognized long snapping trainer Chris Rubio through a local connection. Duzansky knows Will Halkyard, a freshman long snapper at Northwestern who prepped at Glenbard West, the dads are good friends and got Duzansky in touch with Rubio.
Duzansky received instruction from Rubio's coach in the Midwest, put in the work, attended camps and built his ranking up.
Duzansky said he works on his snapping 2-3 times a week, and does slow-motion drills daily at his house.
"There's a lot of things to being a good long snapper. There's consistency – you have to be able to get it back consistently, you can't have the ball going over the punter's head," Duzansky said. "The other thing is speed, getting it as fast as you can, and the other thing is agility, getting down the field."
Duzansky's average snap time for a 15-yard snap is 0.67 seconds, but speed is nothing without accuracy.
"You only get noticed when you do something bad," Duzansky said.
That reality requires a mental toughness to playing the position.
"At a certain point, once you are ranked as high as I am, we all have the physical capability of snapping. It comes down to the mental points," Duzansky said. "Can you snap it under pressure, when the seconds are counting down? Can you believe in yourself? Confidence is a big thing."
Duzansky first connected with Penn State's coaching staff two months ago through Rubio. He was in steady contact with Penn State head coach James Franklin, special teams analyst Eric Raisbeck and special teams coordinator Joe Lorig throughout the process. Lorig ultimately offered Duzansky the spot.
"It was sort of breathtaking when I thought about it," Duzansky said. "You don't think about it at the moment, but I was just offered by Penn State."
Needless to say, Duzansky is grateful to have his college plans firmed up with the uncertainty of this year's football season in Illinois. St. Francis is coming off a 10-2 season and Class 4A quarterfinal appearance.
"It's good to get that stress off," Duzansky said. "Now I don't have to worry about it. I can focus on my team and hopefully competing for a state championship."