SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Liam McCullough’s first season as Ohio State’s starting long snapper began with a bang.
When the Buckeyes reported for fall camp Aug. 6, the redshirt freshman won the fashion battle. He’d seen a picture of Leonardo DiCaprio wearing a shirt with the actor’s likeness on it and decided to lighten the mood by doing the same. He found a picture from the previous year’s check-in and threw it on a shirt.
The result was magnificent. The internet apparently agreed, because pictures of the shirt blew up on Twitter.
Long snapper Liam McCullough is wearing a shirt with a photo of him from last year's check-in. pic.twitter.com/3QtPBbsW6j
— Tim Shoemaker (@TimShoemaker) August 6, 2016
“When I did it, I thought maybe a few people would get a kick out of it,” he said. “I didn’t think it would gain as much popularity as it did. I caught a little flak from it, but a lot of people thought it was funny. People dread camp because of how hard it is, so I wanted to have a little fun.”
McCullough is the rare Ohio State football player who might draw more interest for what he does off the field instead of on it. That’s through no fault of his own, however. He came to Ohio State as the nation’s No. 1-ranked long snapper. Furthermore, he’s only the second scholarship long snapper in Ohio State history. (The first was his predecessor, Bryce Haynes.) However, the simple reality of long snapping is that it draws almost no attention.
Long snappers are only on the field five to 10 times a game. Even when they are, it’s the punter or kicker who draws the crowd’s eye. If someone’s noticing the long snapper, it’s almost certainly because the snap just sailed over the punter’s head or landed short of the field goal holder’s waiting hands.
“You get used to the anonymity of the position,” McCullough said. “It’s something that you get used to and you’re fine with and it’s a good thing. If they know your name, most of the time it’s because you messed up.
“Nobody’s ever going to say it was a great snap because that’s the expectation. It’s expected to be perfect every time. If you miss a field goal or shank a punt you’ll catch some flak for it, but you’ll have more and more chances. But a sailed snap is something that never happens, so it turns into a big event.”
While he’s perfectly executed all 134 of his snaps with no attention, he’s earned plenty of love off the field. Eleven Warriors named him the No. 1 Twitter account on the team in August, and with good reason. His tweets are an entertaining mix of observations, references and tales of his anonymity.
“A lot of people will tweet about football, but I just tweet about whatever fills my mind,” he said. “I tweet what happens in my life. It’s easy to come up with funny things to tweet because my life is that way since I’m a specialist. One of my favorite experiences ever was when I was in Costco wearing a team sweatshirt and a kid asked his dad if I played for the Buckeyes. He said, ‘No, he probably bought his shirt at Dick’s or something.’ Stuff like that always happens. If something funny happens, I tweet it.”
Family behind me in Costco:
Kid- "daddy does that guy play for the Buckeyes?"
Dad- "haha no jack he probably just bought an OSU sweatshirt"
— Liam McCullough (@LiamMcCullough2) April 10, 2016
On Saturday, however, McCullough will get a chance to live out a lifelong dream. No. 3 Ohio State will take on No. 2 Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal, and he’ll be on the field for every field goal and punt. He’ll likely remain as anonymous as ever, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m immensely excited to play in the playoff,” he said. “I remember growing up and watching Ohio State play in the BCS championship games. I remember after I committed watching them in the playoff and thinking I might get to do that one day. Being here is a dream come true.”