Life could be a snap for King

Ryan King during the Eskimos training camp at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alta., June 1,...

Ryan King during the Eskimos training camp at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alta., June 1, 2012. (PERRY MAH/QMI Agency)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:30 PM ET

EDMONTON - Earning a spot on the Edmonton Eskimos roster is a long-shot for some, but for Ryan King it will be a snap.

Make that a ‘long’ snap.

Especially with long-time Eskimos long-snapper Taylor Inglis hanging up the cleats three weeks ago after seven seasons in the CFL.

That leaves the throne vacated for King, a Sherwood Park native taken 38th overall in the fifth round of the draft May 3.

“Taylor is a real good friend of mine,” said the former Edmonton Wildcats junior, who was named defensive all-Canadian in 2007, before going all-conference with the St. Mary’s Huskies. “I’ve known him since we played Wildcats together in 2005 — way back in the day.

“He’s the guy who originally started working with me snapping.”

Before then, King had no clue about the art of snapping a ball 15 yards to a punter, let alone any interest in making a career out of it.

“I remember watching my first Wildcat practice and seeing him shoot a dart back at 15 through his legs and I didn’t even know that was possible,” King said. “So I started snapping with him. He’s been working with me a lot.

“He’s done a lot for me.”

King spent the off-season training in California, but kept in constant touch with Inglis.

“I definitely knew that he was looking to retire,” he said. “He Purolatored me down all these CFL balls so I could start working with those and I had a snapping coach down in the States.

“All that combined really helped to fine-tune things.”

And so far, the experience has been music to King’s ears.

“You walk through the stadium and just look (up), that’s where I’m usually at at Eskimo games,” King recalled. “Role’s reversed, so it’s pretty cool.

“Up until this point, it’s really been surreal. People ask me what it feels like and I have no idea. It’s crazy but when it comes down to it, I’ve still got to get through camp.”

Meaning, heir apparent or not, King isn’t expecting to be crowned with a job just yet.

“It’s just rookie camp, I’ve got to get through this. I’ve still got to get through main camp and two exhibition games before any final decisions are made,” he said. “I’ve got to keep working hard.”

But King’s not expecting to get much acknowledgement for his efforts, considering long-snapping is a job that doesn’t get a lot of attention until things go wrong.

“That’s definitely the truth,” he said. “Because usually the fans are rattled about a bad offensive series and by the time they realize, the snap’s already back and the kick’s already gone.”

The good news is, King isn’t coming into a situation where he is working with an entrenched veteran punter or holder.

“It’s a whole new crew, we’ve got Burke Dales who is punting, too, so I’ve been working with him the last three weeks,” King said of the former Calgary Stampeders punter picked up by Edmonton in the off-season. “And that guy’s about as seasoned a vet as they come.

“He’s helped me so much with the mental side of the game. He’s really increased my confidence coming in as a first-year snapper. And (quarterback Matt) Nichols, the holder, he’s helped me out a ton.”

While retiring wasn’t the easiest decision Inglis has ever made, he is at least going out on his own terms.

“For me, it is just awesome to be able to pass the torch to a friend,” he said. “And know the position’s in good hands.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SunModdejonge


Videos

Photos