Tyler Tokarsky (Fenton, MI) is a 2012 walk-on long snapper for the Michigan Wolverines. Tokarsky took some time out to answer a few questions for us. What are his thoughts on Teybor Pepper? Read on to find out!
Q: First off, we’ll start with a simple question. Why the University of Michigan? What were the major factors that drew you in?
A: Well, I’ve been a huge Michigan fan since the time I began watching sports, and my parents told me at a young age that it’s a world-class university. It’s cliche and often overused, but the academics truly were the biggest factor in my desire to attend school here. I learned to love the teams as well as the school itself and I subsequently set a goal to attend school in Ann Arbor. I always got good grades with the possibility of attending Michigan in mind. I always wanted to play football here, but originally I wanted to be an offensive tackle. Jake Long played in the same league as my high school, and I actually met him when I was a waterboy for the varsity team in 5th grade. I was a big kid growing up, but I didn’t keep growing as fast as I was for a while, so I got resourceful and decided to take up long snapping to keep the dream alive once I realized I wasn’t going to ever be 6’6. There was never another school for me, I was going to come to Michigan whether I was playing football or not. I got accepted back in December, a month and a half before the coaches even knew how to spell my name or had my film. If they didn’t take me now, I would have kept working and went to the student body tryouts.
Q: You recently tweeted saying that you wanted to be the first long snapper to ever go number one overall in the NFL Draft. What’s it going to take in order to make that happen? No goal is ever too lofty.
A: (Laughs) That tweet was mostly in spirit of the NFL Draft tonight rather than being an actual goal, but it never hurts to have goals. Any goal I’ll have has the same formula to achieve it; I have to work hard as a student and an athlete in every aspect of life. Even as a long snapper, I have to work out hard and continue to eat healthy. I have to maintain my grades, because my 3.97 unweighted GPA was one of the main reasons the coaches even reviewed my film in the first place, so I will always know the value of taking schoolwork seriously. And more than anything, I always remember to never become too important to do my own laundry. I always stay humble and work to be better than the guy in front of me and make sure the guy behind me can’t catch up. Even as a walk-on, I get a lot of attention and I love the fans but I hate the praise. Always stay humble.
Q: What are some goals you would like to achieve before your playing career at Michigan is over?
A: Well after Jareth and Curt graduate in two years, I’ll be the oldest snapper on the roster. I’m sure my coaches will bring in at least another guy or two in the years behind me, but as of right now the depth chart points to me. The coaches are obviously going to bring in guys in the years behind me, but I’m going to work harder and more efficiently than anyone else that joins me on the roster. My dad was a coach at my high school, so I always worked harder than anyone else to make sure there was no doubt that I was the best option for the job rather than just a coach’s kid getting preferential treatment. Even if I never see the field, I’ll have a great degree in my hands and know that I’ve done absolutely everything I could to be successful. I’m already living the dream, anything more is just icing on the cake.
Q: Regardless of position on the field, everyone has strengths and weaknesses. What are those for you in your position as long snapper?
A: As far as my strengths go, I’m a very cerebral player. There were numerous big moments in games last year and I never lost my cool. Me and Kenny would always just make small talk on the sidelines before we went out on the field to help calm each other’s nerves. I always stay loose and relaxed before and during the game. I never doubt my abilities, I’ve made that same snap 5,000 times before, so why should I get nervous? One disadvantage I do have is the fact that I’m only 6’0 and 210 lbs right now, 6’1 in cleats. That won’t be a huge issue down the road though because I’m a gym rat and pretty strong for my size. By the time I see the field I’ll have been in a college weight program for several years and be much stronger and bigger than I am. My height is also an advantage though, I can generate more force and create more elasticity over a shorter distance, which helps with the velocity of my snaps.
Q: Have you received any indication from the coaches that the possibility of early playing time as a Freshman or Sophomore is a possibility?
A: I’ve already touched on this in my previous answers, but I likely won’t see the field in the first year or two unless someone gets hurt. Only 105 players can report in June and I was one of the last guys to sign, so I might not even go down until August as a freshman. In all honesty though, I’d rather take a redshirt for several reasons. I’d like to put on some additional weight and strength before I see the field, but more importantly, I’d like to make the most out of my education. I want to at least begin working towards my Master’s degree if possible, and that process is helped by staying on campus for 5 years. And besides, who wouldn’t want to spend an extra year here?
Q: Recently, fellow long snapper Taybor Pepper switched his commitment from Michigan to Michigan State. How does that make you feel about your chances, and what can you do to make him regret that decision?
A: First off, I’d like to congratulate Taybor on that scholarship. Free college is free college, I can’t blame him on that decision, I’m sure he’ll do great over in East Lansing. His decision obviously helps my chances, since that’s one less person to compete with. I was looking forward to competing with him though, it’s always good to have someone pushing you to get better. I’m just looking forward to working hard and ultimately it’s not up to me, the coaches will make the decision as far as who starts. And, well, I’m not going to make him regret it personally, but I’m going to do everything within my power to make sure the Paul Bunyan trophy comes back, and stays at, Schembechler Hall for the foreseeable future.
Q: Have you always been a Michigan fan? If so, how do you feel about Ohio State and MSU?
A: As if I haven’t given it away already, yes I’ve always been a huge Michigan fan since I saw my first game. I didn’t start watching football until 5th grade, but thankfully that’s the case. If the first game I watched wasn’t the one it was, I might not have had to never-ending desire to be a Wolverine like I do. The first game I ever watched was the ’04 Michigan-MSU game during Henne and Hart’s freshman season in which Braylon decided to put the team on his back. Needless to say my mind was blown and I’ve been riding a high from that game ever since. I love my school and will bleed Maize and Blue until I die. As far as Ohio and State, let’s just I’m not very fond of them. At all. Instead of talking bad about them I’m going to be classy and say that I respect them, but don’t like them in the very least. Class is one thing that is incredibly important to me and I can’t stand people that don’t present themselves with class.
You can view Tokarsky’s highlight tape, here.