Pressure is a funny thing, manifested in a variety of ways.
For Bluffton High School's Logan Velliquette, pressure is a byproduct of anonymity, compounded by a fear of failure and the prospect of actually being noticed.
If casual fans know who the long snapper is, it probably means something has gone horribly wrong, so Velliquette toils in obscurity on hot summer days to avoid notoriety on cool fall evenings. It's a difficult role, one that not many players are willing to take on, but it is a role he is comfortable with.
"I could care less about the attention part of it," Velliquette said.
That attitude is part of what makes the rising junior so good at his role. He relishes the minutiae of the process: The proper grip, release, spin and stance. He's learned from two locals, former South Carolina long snapper Scott Beebe and Bluffton High grad Michael Sulka, currently at Auburn.
His performances last year were good enough to land him a spot at Prokicker.com's national event in Tampa, where he placed fifth among about 20 other specialists. He decided to try long snapping with a view of the long-term possibilities clearly in mind.
"It's just a great way to get to college and even the NFL," Velliquette said.
Bluffton coach Ken Cribb sees Velliquette, his personal special teams security blanket, as a serious college prospect, one who will only get better with time.
"He's big enough, he already has the velocity on the snap," Cribb said. "He's only going to get stronger."
Big enough is perhaps the best way to describe Velliquette, who is listed (generously) as 6 feet and 210 pounds. He admits he isn't the biggest player on the field at any time, but when it comes to his specific skill set, size is only a piece of the picture. He started working on long snaps early, in 7th grade.
"My coach said, well let's see how far back we can get you snapping," Velliquette said. "I was one-handing the ball."
Early in the Bobcats' 2013 campaign, Velliquette got his first start. Although admittedly nervous, his first snap went off without a hitch. From there, it was pretty much smooth sailing, as far as the exchange was concerned.
Velliquette and Cribb confirmed that he didn't have a bad snap all season. This, of course, is the ultimate goal: Clean execution. Mistakes lead to turnovers and easy points. It's the very palpable trepidation at the core of every long-snapper, the fear of unwanted attention. A bad snap, says Velliquette, feels a lot like a quarterback throwing an interception on a game-winning drive.
"Most of the time, you're not going to be remembered on whether you have a good snap or not," Velliquette said. "That's just part of it. But as soon as the bad one comes in, you're getting all the blame."
Up to this point, that hasn't been a problem for Bluffton fans, who -- perhaps even without noticing -- have been treated to some of the finest high school long snapping around. If thousands of spectators aren't appreciative, Cribb certainly is. Velliquette is a security blanket, a luxury.
"It's an art, a lost art," Cribb said. "It takes tons and tons of practice and patience and perseverance. You've got to have the ability, but more importantly you've got to have the will to spend the time and effort."
Velliquette does his part in that regard. He goes through about 50 snaps per day, most at his home with his father serving as the holder or punter. He's fast, clocking in at approximately .85 seconds from the time the ball leaves his hands and arrives at the punter's. College programs typically look for something between .7 and .85.
With two more years to refine that ever-important technique, he is confident he may even have some opportunities down the road. His dream school is Ohio State, made clear by the Buckeyes-themed rubber bracelet he wears. He is also interested in the U.S. Naval Academy.
"You've got to really want to do this," Cribb said of long snapping. "A lot of times you're by yourself, training for it. He was the one who actually took it upon himself."
Velliquette is confident but unassuming. He likes to go out on a boat and relax. He enjoys playing golf, although he concedes he's nothing more than a novice. His favorite subject is American history, and he'd like to major in meteorology. He believes long-snapping is a road to greater academic and athletic opportunities, so he will continue to work and continue to excel, hopefully under the radar and out of that unwanted spotlight that mistakes bring.
Of course, if he continues improving at his current rate, he is bound to pop up on the radar of college scouts.
That is the kind of scrutiny he doesn't mind.