Will Sharpton is the newest member of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team -- he signed with the Mocs on Friday. The long snapper from Tullahoma is so new that his Facebook page still lists Tennessee Tech as his college.
The Mocs recently found themselves looking for a long snapper. After a couple of years backing up four-year starter Brock Oliver, Blake Coddington had the job this spring. However, Coddington will not be with the team in the 2012 season, UTC coach Russ Huesman said.
Sharpton was all set to head to Tennessee Tech as a preferred walk-on, but then last week the Mocs called. After resigning himself to not getting a scholarship -- not many schools sign snappers, though scholarships can be earned -- Sharpton said the offer from UTC was a very nice surprise.
"It's not a really highly recruited position, but I had known throughout my whole career that I wanted to play college football," he said. "This is a really big deal for me."
Regarding Coddington's status, Huesman would only say that he won't be playing next season. When Huesman learned that Coddington wouldn't be available, he knew he needed to find a snapper. How does a coach do that, exactly?
Huesman called Vanderbilt special teams coordinator Charles Bankins, who said he'd had an impressive snapper from Tullahoma at one of Vandy's camps. Bankins couldn't remember the player's name, so Huesman emailed long-snapping instructor Chris Rubio and learned about Sharpton.
"[Snappers] are a lot like kickers and punters in that they go to these camps and go to the special [coaches]," Huesman said. "Will went to Rubio's camps and Rubio had him high on his list. ... He's good, he's a really good student -- he wants [to study] biochemistry -- and I think the university should be very happy to have one like him."
The Mocs could sign a couple more players during the months ahead, Huesman said.
The Mocs are set to play a November 2015 game at Florida State, which routed UTC 46-7 in 2008. According to an Orlando Sentinel report confirmed by UTC senior associate athletic director Matt Pope, the Mocs will be paid $550,000.
That is believed to be more than UTC ever has received for a guarantee game.
UTC opens the coming season at South Florida and visits Alabama in 2013 and Tennessee in '14. Florida State will play Wofford in 2013 and The Citadel a year later.
Contact John Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.