Longsnapper Hurrell is Mizzou's unsung hero
COLUMBIA- Jake Hurrell is one of Mizzou football's most important players most fans have never heard of, and he's just fine with being unknown.
"I love it that way," Hurrell said. "I love being under the radar."
In his third season as the starting longsnapper, Hurrell has played in 33 career games, currently tied for eighth-most on the team. But for the most part, students in the classroom and fans in the stadium don't know his name.
"If someone asks what position I play probably half the time people don't even know what a long snapper is," Hurrell said. "I've been snapping for a while and the only way people know if you're a snapper is if you mess up and the best ones go unnoticed."
During the eighth grade, Hurrell started snapping at the urge of his father, who was an assistant coach for his team. It wasn't long before Hurrell fell in love with the job and worked to become a master of the craft.
"Most people when the snaps comes on go to the bathroom or get some chips," Hurrell said. "But if you watch the spiral, the location, it really is an art form."
While Hurrell doesn't like the spotlight, he is really good at his position. Ranked fifth in the nation for the class of 2012 by Kohl's Kicking, the St. Charles native accepted a prefered walk-on position to Mizzou, the in-state program he grew up watching.
"When Coach Henson offered me the walk-on spot I think I said yes before he even finished the sentence," Hurrell said.
Once in Columbia, Hurrell used his freshman year academically for a redshirt and started working to be better, trying to compete alongside some of the best athletes his age in the world.
"Those guys are monsters," Hurrell said. "I'm just an average guy at a niche position that took me to school."
But being on the team wasn't good enough for Hurrell. He wanted to play, and more importantly to start.
"I would say he's a perfectionist," said Andrew Baggett, Mizzou's senior placekicker. "It's incredible watching him at practice just how consistent he is."
By his redshirt freshman year he was starting, and at the end of the 2013 season was named the special teams player of the year. That spring, head coach Gary Pinkel rewarded Hurrell for his efforts with a scholarship.
"That moment was indescribable," Hurrell said. "When Coach Pinkel told me the news I don't think I had words to say. I just said thank you and I called my mom and dad right away."
This week, Hurrell is preparing for the game against Florida, a team he has two of his three career tackles against. While he calls the tackle "the cherry-on-top", the main focus each week for the fourth down savant is his bread and butter, the long snap.
"You're always chasing the perfect snap," Hurrell said. "You're chasing perfection every time you go out there. It's a lot of pressure but you're always striving to be the best you can be every time."
While Hurrell is only a redshirt junior, he hopes to follow the path of another former Missouri longsnapper to wear the number 86, Beau Brinkely of the Tennessee Titans.