Scott Daly seeks perfection in time at Notre Dame
Brennan Buhr | Friday, November 18, 2016
For graduate student long snapper Scott Daly, perfection is the only standard.
“All the specialists here strive for perfection at everything that we do,” Daly said. “My idea of perfection is maybe a little bit different from someone else looking in. I try to hold myself to the highest standard every single time.”
Growing up in Downers Grove, Illinois, Daly played baseball and initially anticipated that he would continue to focus on the sport in college. However, his life was taken in a much different direction when he first took up long snapping in his sophomore year of high school.
“In high school and as a kid, I was all baseball,” Daly said. “When I started playing football in fifth grade, I was the only kid who could long snap, but I didn’t really think much of it. My sophomore football coach Mark Wiggins really took an interest in my long snapping and advised me to work harder at it. I didn’t really think much of it at that moment either.”
However, what began as a side interest for Daly evolved into a much more serious pursuit.
“I took his advice and went to some camps with Chris Rubio, who is now my long snapping instructor,” Daly said. “It really took off from there, and I decided to make a choice to put baseball aside and focus on football, and that got me here today.”
Daly was named national high school long snapper of the year as a member of South Downers Grove High School in 2011, and he certainly had plenty of college football programs from which to choose. However, he saw Notre Dame as much more than just an opportunity to play football. Daly graduated last year with a degree from the Mendoza College of Business, but he decided to return in 2016 for a fifth year because of his love for the University.
“Notre Dame has the whole package,” Daly pointed out. “It has incredible academics and athletics, and the spiritual aspect is really special. The whole spirit, the history, the tradition just overwhelms you. You either love it or you don’t, and me and my family just absolutely love Notre Dame, and I couldn’t be happier.”
On the football side of Daly’s life, repetition is imperative to achieve consistent success.
“Long snapping is all about the mental side of the game,” he noted. “It’s a lot like a golf swing or a baseball swing, with repetition and muscle memory. That’s the biggest thing that separates the average from the good from the great long snappers, to be able to go out there and trust yourself and be prolific every single time.”
Pressure is another major factor that long snappers like Daly must be able to deal with, since their job is to convert 100 percent of the time.
“Whether it’s a regular punt, a regular field goal, or a game-winning field goal, you have to treat it as the exact same thing every time,” Daly emphasized. “Obviously, the goal is perfection. If you make it bigger than it really is, than that’s only going to cause problems.”
Daly has recorded multiple tackles over his five-year career at Notre Dame and even recovered a fumble against Boston College last season.
“To get a fumble recovery at Fenway Park, in that special atmosphere, was pretty incredible,” Daly recalled. “That was a pretty cool moment.”
However, Daly’s most memorable moment at Notre Dame came in the 2014 Music City Bowl against LSU, when he made the snap to set up Kyle Brindza for a game-winning 32-yard field goal as time expired in the fourth quarter.
“Our team was going through so much; a four-game losing streak, backs against the wall, playing a really good SEC team,” Daly said. “To be able to come together, bond together, and find a way to win and to do it in that fashion, sending Kyle Brindza off with a game-winning field goal, was pretty special.”
Daly’s final opportunity to run out of the tunnel next Saturday against Virginia Tech will be the culmination of a special career for the fifth-year, who has experienced everything from the undefeated regular season in 2012 to a tough series of losses this season.
“It will mean a lot,” Daly said. “It was special last year, but to know that it is actually my last time running out of that tunnel will be pretty special. I know seeing my parents being very emotional on Saturday will make me very emotional as well. Hopefully we can gear down and go out there and get a win for myself and the senior class.”