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J.J. Jansen: Jansen not one for publicity, likes anonymity

Lorenzo Reyes | Thursday, November 15, 2007

Being a long snapper is a lot like being a referee.

If a long snapper is doing his job correctly, no one will ever know who he is. But one mistake will define his career.

Irish senior long snapper J.J. Jansen wouldn’t have it any other way.

“For the most part, I’m comfortable with it,” Jansen said. “I don’t like to see my name out there. It’s nice not to worry about it. I’d rather have the credit go to the great kickers on our team. I pride myself when they do well, and hurt for them when they do poorly. I’m just very comfortable with who I am. Sometimes I actually think the anonymity makes playing more enjoyable.”

But whether or not he’ll admit it, Jansen has made major contributions to Notre Dame.

As a freshman, Jansen did not see any action as a reserve long snapper. The following year, the Phoenix, Ariz., native started the last seven games of the season, replacing Dan Hickey as the long snapper on punts and field goals. As a starter in his sophomore year, he was perfect on all 71 snaps.

As a junior, Jansen was the only long snapper who played for the Irish, once again flawlessly snapping on 115 attempts throughout the season for place kicker Carl Gioia and punter Geoff Price.

Coming into his senior season, Jansen was widely considered one of the nation’s most accurate and consistent long snappers. The one blunder in his Notre Dame career came this season against Boston College when he snapped the ball low. That caused Price to field the snap with his knee on the ground, which marked the play dead.

Jansen attributes his solid long snap success rate to focus, relaxation and self-confidence.

“I try to treat everything as one play at a time,” Jansen said. “I try to be even keeled with each snap, just relax and have fun while I’m out there.”

Jansen’s selfless and humble sense of his accomplishments is clear when he reflects on his career.

What was his proudest individual moment at Notre Dame?

“That’s a tough question,” Jansen said. “I would say my proudest moment was when Geoff [Price] broke the all-time record in a season for punting average. It really showed all the hard work we put into our efforts.”

Jansen derived much of his demeanor, work ethic and success from his father, Rick Jansen, who he considers one of the primary models in his life.

“My dad inspires me the most,” Jansen said. “I look up to him to model my life in all aspects, be it football, academics or relationships.”

Of all the lessons Rick Jansen taught his son, the senior long snapper remembers one in particular.

“The most important life lesson he taught me was to work hard at everything I do,” Jansen said. “With friends, football and school, he taught me to put forth my full effort and do everything with respect.”

Coming from a tight-knit family, Jansen is not afraid to share every aspect of his life with his father.

“I turn to him to ask questions about anything,” Jansen said. “When I’m not meeting my own expectations, he is a great sounding board to talk things out. I don’t have to hide anything from him. It’s easy to turn to him when I need some honest advice.”

Once Jansen graduates, he wants to continue playing football for as long as he can, and hopes to land a spot in the NFL as a long snapper.

“I’m excited to see what happens,” Jansen said. “I’m going to play it by ear, but my first goal is definitely the NFL.”

Whether Jansen makes it to the next level, he can be sure his father will be there by his side, making sure he maximizes his potential.

“He showed me that I should never quit on anything, regardless of how bad it was at the time,” Jansen said. “It was never an option.”