Picking Yale was a snap for Montville's Tibbetts

Montville's Nick Tibbetts, right, chases after a loose ball with Austin Brandt of Ledyard during a game on Sept. 30, 2016 at Montville. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Montville's Nick Tibbetts, right, chases after a loose ball with Austin Brandt of Ledyard during a game on Sept. 30, 2016 at Montville. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Montville — Nick Tibbetts is not your everyday high school student.

The Montville High senior, for starters, is going to Yale next year, choosing the Ivy League school over West Point and the Coast Guard Academy.

And while he's a three-sport athlete for the Indians, his calling card is a little different. He plays on the defensive line, tight end and a little at fullback on the football team. But the notoriety for the 6-foot-2, 230-pounder has come as a long snapper.

"Most people are like, 'you mean a center,'" Tibbetts said. "'No, it's different,' I tell them. Most people don't understand."

Understand this, though. Tibbetts is nationally ranked by Rubio Long Snapper and has been attending clinics all over the country. And college coaches all over the country value the position much more than the casual fan does. Look up his clips on YouTube if you're curious.

"It's one of those things when you tell people about it that it seems like something everybody can do, but they can't," Montville coach Tanner Grove said. "He has started four years as the long snapper because he came to high school with that skill."

Said Tibbetts: "That was a neat experience because I got to bond with the senior players."

Tibbetts didn't have to look far for inspiration.

"Actually, my older cousin Sam Rodgers long snapped at Syracuse when I was in seventh grade,"  Tibbetts said. "He had gotten a full ride for it. He introduced me to it and I picked it up from there."

Tibbetts, who also wrestles and is a defender on the lacrosse team, is one of the captains on this year's football team.

"He's a great leader on and off the field," Grove said. "Because of the quality of the kind of kid he is, the program is proud to kind of show him off. He does all kinds of community service in and around Montville."

Tibbetts will join New London's Hunter Roman and Major Roman at Yale next season.

Tibbetts' cousin isn't the only family member invested in long snapping. His mother Diane and father Mark have been key figures in his development. Out of love and necessity. After toughing it out for a few years, mom made a change.

"It was getting scary for her to catch the ball without gloves," Tibbetts said.

Even in the dead of winter, Tibbetts gets his work in.

"During wrestling season me and my dad went up into the attic and found a little space up there," Tibbetts said. "We snapped up there all winter."

It's not a pipe dream to play in the National Football League if you are good enough. Zak DeOssie of the New York Giants came out of the Ivy League (Brown) and is in his 11th year with a team. He's a two-time Pro Bowler and has won a pair of Super Bowl rings.

"I knew that it could take me places," Tibbetts said. "I didn't realize the potential I had a couple of years ago."

As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, Tibbetts was excited when his team took Louisville long snapper Colin Holba in the sixth round of last year's NFL Draft. Not many Steelers fan noticed, but he did.

Even if this long snapping thing doesn't take him any further, it, along with his good grades and work habits, has already landed him at Yale.

"I'm thinking of taking political science at Yale and get some good internships," Tibbetts said. "Maybe get into a career in politics or become a practicing lawyer.''

Definitely not your everyday high school student.

d.davis@theday.com

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