Scholarships to play college football aren't easy to come by.
Scholarship for long snappers are an even more precious commodity.
Those long odds, not to mention a torn anterior cruciate ligament, didn't deter Chesterton specialist Alex Bobos from his dream of playing in college and getting his expenses paid.
"The more people were telling me I couldn't get a scholarship just being a long snapper, it kept pushing me to work harder to get it," Bobos said.
Always one of the heavier kids on his Pop Warner team, Bobos was handed the ball back in seventh grade and was told to snap it.
"I was snapping one handed back then," he said. "I didn't know what I was doing, but I got it back there pretty well."
Bobos has been doing it ever since. When he was a freshman, his brother Jacob, who also played football for the Trojans (and also tore his ACL), mentioned the idea of Alex earning his way to college by long snapping. Alex soon began spinning the pigskin to Jacob an hour each day. Bobos learned how to snap with two hands through the Bears' Patrick Mannelly's website. As a sophomore, he attended Chris Rubio's camp to further refine his form.
"He just worked as hard as anyone I've seen to perfect his ability and snap accurately and with velocity," Chesterton coach John Snyder said.
As Kyle Schmidt's kicking star began to rise, it was Bobos who was transporting the ball back to the holder. He took over the snapping duties as a sophomore and never relinquished them.
Like a lineman, Bobos quickly learned that the only time you're noticed is if you mess up.
"You can't have a good kick without a good snap or a good hold," Bobos said. "Everything's got to be perfect. Obviously, if the snap comes rolling in, they're not going to get the kick off."
Like a kicker, he is able to zone out his surroundings and focus.
"I don't hear the crowd. I don't hear players," he said. "The only time I would say was a little stressed was Merrillville, the (Duneland) conference championship game. We had a punt with five seconds left. I didn't want to mess up the snap."
The summer before his junior year, Bobos tore his ACL running down field on special teams in a scrimmage against Griffith. It wasn't until after the first game of the season that he had the injury medically confirmed, along with a slight meniscus tear. A day later, Chesterton trainer Bernie Stento fitted Bobos with a knee brace and he was back at it, not missing a practice, let alone a game. He put off surgery until after the season.
"I probably should've had surgery earlier," Bobos said. "After that, I wasn't really afraid to get hurt anymore. I figured, I tore my ACL, it couldn't be any worse than that. I just wanted to play so bad. It was a great feeling knowing the coaches all had the confidence in me to still do the job. It really helped me through the recovery."
Three weeks after the November surgery, Bobos was back snapping. Last summer, at Schmidt's urging, he attended special teams camps at Ball State, Indiana State, Toledo and Oregon to showcase his talents. While Bobos did well, nobody was ready to commit. Ball State wanted him to walk on and earn a spot after their seniors departed. Indiana State had an interest in his short snapping, saying it might have some money in a year, but that wasn't guaranteed.
Indianapolis coach Bob Bartolomeo happened to be at the Ball State camp and liked what he saw enough to give Bobos a firm offer, with no asterisks. Bobos accepted a few weeks ago. He will join Trojans teammate Joe Troop with the Greyhounds next season.
"He's the best snapper that we've ever had and one of the best that I've seen come out of high school," Snyder said. "He is a perfect example of how someone can develop a skill through hard work and determination."