Brock Sassler knew his recruitment would be different than that of his high school teammates seeking to play Division I football. Sassler plays defensive end and linebacker at Boys Latin in Baltimore, but his future isn’t at either of those positions.
Sassler committed to play long snapper at Maryland on Aug. 14. Once he gets to College Park, he’ll eschew his previous positions to focus on just the one, hoping to secure a scholarship. Sassler will have to pay his way through school as a freshman but will have the chance to earn a scholarship after his first year with the team.
"I feel like if I work hard enough, I should definitely be able to get that," he said in an interview with Testudo Times. "I kind of always knew long snapping was my golden ticket. I don’t have the size to be a linebacker because I’m not 6’3, 270, so I kind of stuck to my craft."
Sassler added long snapping to his repertoire in eighth grade, but didn’t start getting serious about it until his sophomore year of high school.
"It was more of like a ‘somebody had to do it,’ and no one usually wants to long snap," he said. "So I started working on it, and I actually fell in love with the sport and worked on my craft and got better at it."
He started going to camps, some at Maryland, and regularly trained with Special Teams U, a company that works with long snappers. In February, Sassler was ranked the No. 19 long snapper in the class of 2017, and the best in the Mid-Atlantic by Kohl’s Kicking.
Former pro long snapper Kyle Stelter helped Sassler flatten out his back and loosen his stance while snapping, and helped him learn how to get better at snapping the ball without looking at his target, which he says better prepares him for the next level.
"He completely changed the way I snapped from day one," Sassler said. "The first day I went there I had a set idea of how to do it, and he trashed my idea. I started anew, and that’s what I use today."
Sassler started going to Maryland’s special teams camps as a freshman, and kept improving enough to get on the coaches’ radar. At the end of the camp, when each position has a competition, Sassler snapped longer and faster than the other 14 long snappers in attendance.
Maryland offered Sassler not too long after, and even though the Terps were his No. 1 school, he didn’t commit right on the spot. While he was mulling over his decision, he got a special shoutout on Twitter from Maryland alum Shawne Merriman.
Come on @sasslerB lock it in. https://t.co/AVVKokGdgv— Shawne Merriman (@shawnemerriman) August 11, 2016
Sassler originally thought it was a fake account, but nope. The former Pro Bowler wanted him to come to Maryland. And as of Monday, Merriman hasn’t tweeted at any other recruits.
"To be honest, that kind of pushed me over the edge," Sassler said. "I was ready to commit, and then he tweeted at me and I was like, ‘OK it’s time to go."
Junior Nate Adams is now the Terps’ starting long snapper, and should be the starter again next year when Sassler is a freshman. Once Adams is gone, current sophomore Matt Oliviera looks to be Sassler’s main competition.
Now that he’s committed, Sassler’s next project is getting teammate Victor Dimukeje, a three-star defensive end, to come with him to College Park. Maryland is in the mix for Dimukeje, who, if he does have a leader, hasn’t tipped his cards to his teammates.
"We have a discussion about it every day. It’s kind of a running thing going," Sassler said. "I’m trying to get him to come to Maryland. He’s still considering it all. He’s not very open with it, but all I know is Maryland is still on his list."