If Tyler Nesbitt had showed up one day earlier, he might be an equipment manager right now. But on that particular day, fate had other plans for the former South Tahoe football player.
Fortuitous timing and the right background landed Nesbitt a starting spot on Montana State University’s powerhouse football program as a long snapper this season. He joins a winning tradition. The Montana Bobcats are three-time consecutive Big Sky Conference champions. They have shared or won that title 15 times, six of which were in the past 11 years. They finished the 2012 season 11-2.
The Bobcat’s program is not an easy scene to break into, but Nesbitt showed up at the perfect time, according to head coach Rob Ash said.
“We had the perfect storm of players leaving the program and suffering injuries so that we spent most of the summer looking for a long snapper,” Ash said in an email. “In late July, we found a player, Rocky Hogue (from Reno), and he really performed well early in camp. But he was injured during camp, and we were back to looking at our options.”
Meanwhile, Nesbitt had just arrived at Montana State after transferring from University of Nevada at Reno, where he was an equipment manager for the football team. He was hoping to do the same at Montana. He though he might be able make the team as a walk-on in the spring.
He tracked down the equipment guys and asked if he could help out, mentioning he could throw the ball, long snap or whatever was needed. Nesbitt had them at long snap.
“He asked me ‘How good do you long snap?’ And I told him I was decent at it, and did it in high school, and he brought me straight up to the head coach’s office,” Nesbitt said.
Up in the office, the coaches were busy discussing replacement long-snapper options. Enter Nesbitt, who recorded a 0.7 average long snap during spring tryouts at Nevada.
“Nevada thought I was a decent long snapper, but they just didn’t have room in their walk-on program there,” Nesbitt said. “It was just kind of a freak thing and Montana needed a guy.”
Montana was sold, and two days later Nesbitt was on the practice field the minute his transfer papers came through. He had one week to get ready for Montana’s big home opener, known as the Gold Rush, which would draw a crowd of 21,000.
“He has done a very good job. Tyler is handling the short snaps and another player (tight end Austin Barth) is snapping on punts,” Ash said. “Tyler was a little rusty on his snaps early, but he’s improved with every practice and is performing well. We’re fortunate and happy to have him in our program.”
Montana won its opener 42-24 against Monmouth on Thursday. Nesbitt snapped a total of eight times between field goals and PATs. As a team, Montana successfully converted six of those field goals and PAT.
“There’s definitely a winning persona with the whole team and the coaches as well. They’re all just good guys,” Nesbitt said. “It’s still unreal. I can’t believe it’s happening.”