MOULTRIE — It was eighth-grade football coach Thad Brown who first encouraged Max Parker to take up long snapping.
Parker’s father Rhett thought it was a good idea too and took his sometimes reluctant son to the yard to practice.
Now, several years later, it is Max, Colquitt County’s rising senior snapper, who has to coax his dad out to the yard.
The practice certainly has paid off for the 5-foot-11, 250-pounder, who believed being able to send a football through his legs accurately to a punter or a place-kick holder might be a way to earn a college scholarship.
Parker has one offer, from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis.
He’d like to get one from a school a little closer to home, perhaps, say, Georgia Southern or Coastal Carolina.
A solid 2020 season for the Packers just might do the trick.
In addition to honing his skills with his father and the Colquitt County coaching staff, including Chad Nighbert and former assistant Troy Hobbs, Parker also has regular attendee at off-season camps aimed at improving his technique and allowing him to compete with others at his position.
Last month, he attended the three-day Chris Rubio Top 12 competition in Dallas, Texas, which brings together some of the top snappers in the country.
Over the last 15 years, Rubio, a former snapper at UCLA, has helped train more than 1,000 athletes who have gone on to compete at the college level.
“You have to be invited to attend,” Parker said of the Dallas competition. “They only invite the best in the country.”
Parker was pleased to be ranked No. 27.
But he continues to work at his craft.
He remembers getting pointers from former Colquitt County snapper Noah Hightower, who went on to play at Shorter University.
And he has been able to take advantage of the instruction provided by new Colquitt County ninth-grade coach Chad Wheeler, who was a snapper at Florida State.
“He has given me a lot of help,” Parker said.
Parker remembers his first snap as a Packer, which came in the 2018 Corky Kell Classic victory over McEachern.
“I was freaking out,” he said.
But it was perfect.
Last year he worked with Tucker Pitts as both the holder and the punter.
He said he likes snapping for punts better than his work on place kicks because it allows him to “go down and hit somebody.”
He has had several opportunities to do just that.
He also remembers downing a punt at the 1-yard line last season against Alcovy.
Parker was disappointed that the Georgia High School Association canceled all scrimmages this year, including Colquitt County’s game against Lee County.
“I’ve got some buddies over there,” he said.
He hopes he gets a chance to put his talent on display this season, working again with Pitts and place-kicker and punter Emmanuel Perez.
One game he is especially looking forward to is the one against Valdosta when his former coach Rush Propst returns to Colquitt County as the Wildcats head man.
“He coached me up on some things when he was here,” Parker remembers.
The techniques for snapping for punts and kicks differ somewhat.
He keeps his legs a little further apart for point-after and field goal attempts, while making sure the ball stays low.
The distance to the punter is a little over double than the seven yards to the holder and must be sent back a little higher.
And asked how he approaches a job that many football fans don’t understand or appreciate, he says it all comes down to muscle memory.
“It’s best to just do it and don’t think about it,” he said.