Bradley Robinson to start at long snapper for Ohio State, replace Liam McCullough
Bradley Robinson is the starting long snapper for Ohio State, special teams coordinator Matt Barnes said Wednesday during a conference call with reporters.
Robinson edged Roen McCullough for the position, which was vacated by the departure of four-year snapper Liam McCullough, Roen's older brother.
Both players had spent several seasons with the Buckeyes as walk-ons. Robinson joined the program in 2017 after transferring from Michigan State, while McCullough arrived the following year. Barnes saw Robinson gain the upper hand in recent preseason practices.
“He’s been the most consistent,” Barnes said.
Practice periods that involved hiking the ball on field goals or punts proved as critical points in their evaluations.
“I don't put a lot of stock in snaps that they chart when they're off doing their own thing,” Barnes said. “I chart the snaps that they do in our team punt periods when the head football coach is there and there's a rush team, and that rush team is trying to go block the punt. Those types of things. Those periods are critical in evaluating the snappers.”
Although Robinson is in line to start when Ohio State opens its season against Nebraska on Oct. 24, Barnes said his place at the top of the depth chart does not mean an end to the competition.
“Just like any other position, they're not set in stone,” he said, “and ultimately we're going to make sure we've got the guy out there that gives us the best opportunity to win.”
The Buckeyes in recent years benefited from Liam McCullough's consistency. Field goals and punts went off with minimal issues. Snaps were on the mark.
According to program records, his snaps were on target in 54 of 55 career games. Last season, he was a finalist for the Patrick Mannelly Award, which recognizes the top long snapper in the country.
The transition presents a period of adjustment for kicker Blake Haubeil and punter Drue Chrisman, seniors who had worked with the elder McCullough throughout their careers at Ohio State.
“That's kind of the elephant in the room in the special teams unit,” Chrisman said. “Liam did a great job in the four years he was here.”
But an offseason altered by the coronavirus pandemic offered them additional opportunities to adjust to the replacements, easing their adjustment.
When the pandemic shut down spring practices and limited summer workouts, prompting facilities at Ohio State to be closed to them, Chrisman said he and Haubeil retreated to recreational fields and high schools around Columbus to train with the inexperienced long snappers.
“We kind of had the chance to work more one-on-one since we had that time off,” Chrisman said. It was more time spent than in previous offseasons with McCullough.
For Robinson, long snapping is in his bloodlines. His older brother, Andrew, is a former long snapper at Michigan.
Chrisman, who had viewed both players up close, said Robinson enjoys weightlifting, and that the two of them hold a bench press competition each Monday that is overseen by assistant strength and conditioning coach Niko Palazeti.
“I think he’s going to be great,” Chrisman said.
Haubeil offered a similar assessment about his roommate.
“I can’t say enough about his craft and his dedication toward being a long snapper,” Haubeil said. “He’s constantly looking at film, constantly striving to get better.”