The Pittsburgh Steelers spent a sixth-round selection on former Louisville long snapper Colin Holba during the 2017 NFL Draft and if things go like the team hopes they will, we aren’t likely to be discussing him very much, if any, once the regular season gets underway.
Holba, who is now expected to be the team’s long snapper for the considerable future after veteran Greg Warren was released a few weeks ago with a failed physical designation, was recently asked in an interview on Steelers Nation Radio how he balances the fact that most fans probably won’t even know his name if he performs his job like he’s supposed to.
“I really don’t focus on messing up, I focus on doing my job every time,” Holba said. “I try to hit the hip on a punt, I try to hit the hand on field goals. I don’t really worry about messing up, that’s something that you can’t really think about.”
Holba, who was regarded my many as the best long snapper in this year’s draft class, was asked during last week’s interview to explain some of the differences from college he’ll face at the position now that he’s in the NFL.
“You run a lot of spread punts in college, so the snapper doesn’t really have to block, so there’s a lot more blocking responsibilities on punts,” Holba explained. “Just, maybe, if the target is the hold chest in college, now you pinpoint one spot. So, your snaps need to be a little more precise, there’s a little less room for error, but mostly just the blocking.”
So, what about the blocking? He’ll have to get used to that, right?
“That’s something that coming out of college I knew that that was something I have been having to work on, so I worked on that as soon as we got back from the bowl game,” Holba said about his blocking. “So, obviously, it’s different getting live-game speed going against other guys, but that’s something that I knew I had been preparing for, so it’s not something that caught me off guard. It’s just something that – it’s getting the reps in a real game situation.”
While Holba might have to spend extra time working on his blocking, initially, he has confidence in his ability to run down the field as part of the punt coverage team at the NFL level.
“I was one of the first guys to the ball in college,” Holba said. “I’m more of a safety net here. I’m still a football player first and foremost, but my role is to be kind of the back-line defense. We’ve got gunners and other guys that are much more athletic than I am.”
Holba was also asked if he uses any kind of targets to practice with when it comes to him working on the preciseness of his long snaps.
“I kind and try to look for little spots on the punter,” Holba said. “Back in college, we were [sponsored by] Adidas and so there’s the Adidas logo right there on the hip. So, I would just try to dot the ‘I’ on the Adidas. You can’t really look at targets, I like to snap to real person, so I just try to pinpoint something super small I can barely see.”
Even though Warren is now out of the picture, Holba said he still hopes to work with the Steelers longtime long snapper some in the near future in an effort to better prepare for the season.
“I texted him [Warren] last week a little bit hoping I can meet with him sometime in the next couple of weeks just to go over film or something with him,” Holba said.
Warren was the Steelers long snapper for 12 seasons and thus Holba knows there’s a good chance he can quite possibly have a long career in Pittsburgh as well.
“You just got to fly underneath the radar and stay healthy,” Holba said.
Here’s to Holba flying underneath the radar as often and as long as Warren was able to.