Seahawks' rookie snapper Nolan Frese is hoping to stay as anonymous as he can in his first season replacing veteran Clint Gresham.
Nolan Frese knows there is one eternal guiding principle for long snappers.
“The less you know of my name, then the better job I am doing,’’ Frese said.
Frese’s name was said a little more than he might have liked Sunday when there were a couple of low and inside snaps, including one that contributed to a missed field goal in the fourth quarter of Seattle’s eventual 26-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
“We were a little inside with the snaps,’’ coach Pete Carroll said this week.’’ (Holder) Jon (Ryan) handled it, the two of them early on, he did fine. Then there was just one of them that was low, it really got down in there. As soon as we adjusted we were fine and Nolan did a good job. It was unfortunate that we were getting away with it. We should have made note of it because he fixed it immediately. We should be okay.”
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And Carroll says when taken in total, the Seahawks are getting just what they wanted from Frese, an undrafted free agent who won the competition for the job in training camp after the team decided in March to release long-time snapper Clint Gresham.
“He’s done well, and he’s improved,’’ Carroll said of Frese. “His punt snaps I think have been excellent, I think he’s improved. If you remember, he was a little banged up coming out of the end of preseason (when he was dealing with a shoulder injury) and it made a difference. Once he got healthy he got to the mark and he did a good job.”
Still, the surprising release of Gresham — who had ably held the job since 2010 and had two years remaining on his contract — has cast more of a spotlight on the snapping position this season than might usually be the case (money played a key role in the switch, with the Seahawks essentially saving $210,000 in the move, when accounting for dead money in Gresham’s deal).
None of that is Frese’s concern, though.
As he says “I’m my own guy trying to do my own thing and just do my job.’’
It’s one for which he has long prepared.
Frese, who grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, said be began snapping in the fifth grade. His father, Mike, a commercial airline pilot, was coaching his youth football team, which Frese says “had a kid who could kick field goals in fifth grade.’’ So Mike Frese taught Nolan how to snap to take advantage, and as he says he “ended up being pretty good at it and it just carried over from there.’’
Frese played defensive line and linebacker in high school, but knew that snapping was his only avenue to continue playing into college, so he began attending the Rubio Long Snapping camps in ninth grade.
He walked on at Houston, then was put on scholarship when he won the snapping job two years later.
Frese wasn’t sure what life after college initially held (he has a degree in supply chain management). He got invited to Carolina’s rookie mini-camp but said with the Panthers’ situation (veteran J.J. Jansen has the job there) he knew he was going mostly for the experience.
He had no other NFL offers through the spring, and was exploring other job opportunities when the Seahawks called in late June to ask him to come to Seattle for a tryout with three other snappers.
Frese flew to Seattle, conducted the workout, then was offered a contract on the spot to compete with Drew Ferris. Ferris was released the week before the first preseason game, and the job has belonged ever since to Frese, who is listed at 6-2, 233 and whose speed and ability to cover on punts has worked in his favor.
Frese admits he initially had some moments of wonder that he had gone in a few weeks from maybe getting a job outside football to suddenly sitting in a locker room with guys like Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman.
“Not so much anymore,’’ he said. “But (initially) you are like ‘is this really happening?’ kind of thing. But the experience so far has been unbelievable, so I’m just trying to keep going as long as I can.’’
Frese, 24, acknowledges there has been “a steep learning curve’’ to adjusting to the NFL and he has leaned as much as he can on Ryan and field goal kicker Steven Hauschka.
The snaps last week, he said, were all part of that learning experience.
“There are small, intricate things I can clean up to make sure that doesn’t happen again,’’ he said. “And there are mental corrections, too, in how to handle the situations. Talking to these guys is really where that comes into play.’’