All Thomas Dale offensive lineman Robert Snead wanted last year was one more snap with his teammates. Not only will the rising senior get that, but he will also play football at James Madison University in the fall of 2016.
“I didn’t want to wait any longer,” Snead said. “It’s the type of school I’d want to go to even if I didn’t play football.”
In recent seasons, Thomas Dale has endured its fair share of injuries. In the first quarter last year’s season opener at Cosby, Snead went down, and knew it wasn’t good. The strapping 6-6, 310 pound lineman had torn his meniscus and ACL in his left knee.
“At that point I was just thinking about playing football again,” said Snead. “I wasn’t even thinking about playing in college.”
With good reason, most colleges were reluctant to offer Snead before seeing him play in a couple of games this year, with his only other offer coming from Campbell University (N.C.). After his performance at a camp, the Dukes were impressed despite seeing room for improvement.
Snead was seen on the sidelines at every Thomas Dale game last year on crutches, cheering his team on. The offensive line is always important, but is even more vital to Thomas Dale’s style of football – run it up the gut. The anchor of the Knights’ line also served in a coaching capacity, helping the other lineman in practice and games.
“He knows what everyone is supposed to be doing on the field on every play,” said Thomas Dale coach Kevin Tucker. “He became an assistant coach for the line.”
Not surprisingly, another Knights player that spent most of his junior season on the sideline, linebacker/tight end Marco Carrabotta, who will be playing with Army this year. He was a big help to him during his rehab, on both the mental and physical sides of the venture.
Snead, a soft-spoken big man, isn’t anyone that opposing defensive lineman look forward to facing. Though it’s a very important component, being big, mean and nasty isn’t the only requirement to play on the offensive line. Often times, lineman are among the smartest players on the field.
“He’s very aggressive, but smart,” Tucker said. “He knows how to use his hands and with his tall, wide body it’s hard for defenders to beat him off the edge.”
Snead’s work ethic with the X’s and O’s is matched by his efforts in the classroom, where his 3.5 GPA indubitably impressed JMU’s coaching staff as well.
For Snead, the injury has added even more fuel to his fire.
“I have a new found appreciation for the game,” Snead said. “I’m ready to get out there and be beside my teammates.”
That’s where Snead will be when Thomas Dale opens the season with a home tilt against Cosby on Aug. 28. Kickoff at 7 p.m.