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ERIC SONDHEIMER / ON HIGH SCHOOLS

Earning scholarship proved to be a snap for Charter Oak's Tanner Gibas

Gibas was more into skateboarding than football growing up, but on Wednesday he'll sign a letter of intent with Colorado State as a long snapper.

January 30, 2011|Eric Sondheimer

If Tanner Gibas of Covina Charter Oak ever makes it to the NFL, those who knew him early in high school will have a hard time believing it.

"I was never into sports," he said. "I never liked football. I played Gremlin flag football and didn't like it at all. My dad said, 'Try one more time.' I thought I was going to be skateboarding and go to film school to make movies because that's all I liked to do. I never thought I'd be playing college football. It's very weird."

Guess what position Gibas plays?

He's not a kicker, but he hangs out with kickers, which means their quirky traits have rubbed off on him.

Gibas is a long snapper, and on Wednesday, he's going to sign a letter of intent with Colorado State. Yes, he's going to receive four years of a college education for free.

His specialty is hiking the ball so fast back to the punter that he could break a hand if the punter isn't paying attention.

Chris Rubio, a former long snapper at UCLA who serves as a private coach, said, "He's in the top three in the country."

Of course, no one pays attention to a long snapper unless they do something bad, like hike the ball over the punter's head or mess up a field goal. They have to have egos that will let them disappear on the field.

Gibas is fine with that, especially considering he's going to get a college scholarship and if he keeps getting better, he could end up in the NFL with a six-figure salary.

"That would be very ironic," he said. "As a freshman, I had long blond hair and was skateboarding around not having a care in the world. If I do play in the NFL, I'm going to laugh."

Parents whose kids are a little chubby, not very fast and not athletic might want to have them try long snapping.

"I recommend it to kids who aren't very good in football," Gibas said. "Anyone can snap the football. You don't have to run a 4.2 40 or have an arm like Carson Palmer. It's all technique. It's definitely a great way to get on the field faster, but long snappers are getting better and better."

Gibas can get the ball to the punter in less than a second.

"I've had Tanner in the low .6s," Rubio said. "It's close to 50 mph. If you're not ready for it, he's going to break your hands. He's so long and fluid with his motion."

Gibas is 6 feet 2, 200 pounds. His older brother, Corey, spent four years on scholarship as a long snapper at Texas A&M.

He has become so dedicated to long snapping that he has a target hanging in his backyard that allows him to practice by himself. He's not alone. Rubio had more than 150 aspiring long snappers show up for his camp in Las Vegas. His star pupil, Christian Yount from UCLA, is expected to be taken in the NFL draft.

No word yet whether Gibas' parents are going to buy him a new skateboard since he could be saving them more than $200,000 in college costs.

A new Hall of Fame

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame has produced lots of outstanding athletes and will finally launch its own sports Hall of Fame. The first induction ceremony is scheduled for Feb. 26 on campus.

Among the initial inductees are football standouts John Vella ('68), Dave Kopay ('60) and Gordy Ceresino ('75), plus baseball standouts Tim Foli ('68) and Greg Goossen ('64).

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATSondheimer

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