Turning long-snapping into an art at Penn


You wouldn't guess it from the outside, but a non-descript barn in Mishawaka is where dreams are made.

"We're going to try to get a banner out front that says The Scholarship Factory," says Ben Makowski.

For Ben and Jake Hess, both students at Penn, the crowded space is a proving ground as they hone one of football's most specific skills -- long snapping. This select fraternity thrives on competition -- launching the perfect spiral, firing bullets at each other from just seven yards apart in a game called Kill and deciding who reigns supreme on the ping pong table.

It's all to make sure sure they are ready to perform under pressure on Friday nights.

"They always say as long as your name is not mentioned as a long snapper, you're doing your job right," Jake says.

One name that does get mentioned quite often inside the barn is former Penn All-State lineman Gabe Miller. The barn belongs to his parents and Gabe turned countless hours perfecting his craft into a full ride to Nebraska, snapping as a true freshman for the Huskers last year.

Ben and Jake are here because Gabe took them both under his wing. The trio have traveled around the country to national long snapping camps hosted by guru Chris Rubio.

"Gabe and Mr. Miller, they're the Godfathers of long snapping," says Jake.

"Made me open and eyes and just think that could be me some day," Ben adds. "They just really pushed me to work hard."

Ben took over snapping duties at Penn when Gabe graduated. And just this summer, before his senior year, he accepted an offer from Purdue.

"When they extended me the full scholarship, my family was right alongside me," Ben remembers. "We all just went crazy. It was a surreal moment, I couldn't believe it."

Jake, only a sophomore, will snap for the Kingsmen's JV squad this year.

"Hopefully I'll be like Ben and Gabe and get a scholarship," says Jake. "I look up to them. I have goals on my wall and one of the goals is to be better than Ben and Gabe. I want to do that some day."

As next in line, Jake has a very clear path to follow. And it starts at the scholarship factory.