19-year-old Brock Oliver was a true freshman at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the team's long snapper when he was called in during the first half of their season opener against Oklahoma. With no other experience than a few weeks during camp, Oliver kicked off his college football career in front of 85,000 people.
"Playing college football was a dream of mine since I was eight years old," Oliver says. "Watching games on TV and going to games with my Dad, I remember being in awe of the crowd, the players, the traditions, just everything about it. It was something I always wanted to do and I was determined to make that happen."
Following that first game in 2008, No. 42 was the team's snapper for the next four seasons and named to the Academic All-Southern Conference 2009-2011. Oliver majored in Business Management, graduated and married, but says he was missing his time on the field.
"I was grateful to have been able to live out my dream, but it felt like a piece of me was missing." Oliver adds, "After all those years of preparation and hours of training, it was very difficult to accept the fact that it was all over. There was a huge void in my life to fill."
Oliver began to consider the idea of coaching, something he had enjoyed with his brother, Brynn, in training him to fill his position on the UTC roster after graduating. Brynn successfully made the team and won the starting job, starting all 12 games as long snapper without a single bad snap. "Along with my brother, I have worked with some other high school kids and the snappers at UTC," Oliver says. "After seeing those guys' success, I figured that I must be doing something right."
All American Kicking's Nick Fleming thought he was doing something right, too, inviting Oliver to join the staff as Snapping Director. While snapping instruction has been offered through AAK, it was infrequent and something that Fleming wanted to make a more consistent part of the instructional sessions. Fleming says, "The addition of Coach Brock will allow our snappers to get the same quality instruction as their specialist counterparts." He adds, "I am extremely excited to see the new heights our snappers will reach under Coach Brock's guidance. He brings a great deal of knowledge in snapping technique, along with great experience to share with students about recruiting and college football."
Oliver will be working with snappers during All American Kicking's weekend sessions, sharing two of his biggest areas of focus: flexibility and having consistent ball placement. Oliver says flexibility is something that is often overlooked and recommends stretching once or twice a day. "It takes all the muscles in your body, working in unison, to execute a perfect snap. It's really hard to be a good snapper, if you're able to bend over, grab the ball, and fire your arms back to the punter, with your legs locking out for full power, without flexible muscles."
The snapping coach says it is important to practice hitting the same target, the punter's hip, every single time. He adds, "Alot of guys out there who specialize in coaching long snappers, coach that speed is everything. While speed is important, college coaches want a guy who they can rely on in a game."
But, there is much more beyond the field that Oliver hopes he can help his students understand, showing them how they can take lessons in football and apply them to other areas of their life. "The game teaches team work, discipline, mental toughness, and other positive character traits that will make you a better man, long after your playing days are over."
While No. 42's playing days are behind him, he sees how football has opened doors to other opportunities he would not have have enjoyed otherwise. "I really don't think I would be where I am today without having played this game. But now, I am lucky to have the opportunity to work with AAK and get back into the game that I love."