Snyder catches on with KU as a coach
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
Zach Snyder wasn’t sure if he would be qualified to coach at the college level yet.
The 2008 Warwick High School product had recently finished up his playing career with the Division-II Kutztown University football team and was keeping his options open.
But newly-hired Golden Bears’ skipper Drew Folmar, who served as Kutztown’s offensive coordinator during the time that Snyder was a slot receiver there, knew that the former Warrior star was interested in coaching.
And Folmar obviously had faith in Snyder.
Ultimately KU had an opening for a running backs coach and the Bears hired Snyder for that position prior to the 2013 season.
"I had talked to (Folmar) about (coaching) before while I was here," Snyder said. "He just called me and asked if I was interested, and of course, I was. I probably would have been teaching and coaching with Warwick if I stayed home. A lot of people want to coach in college, but they don’t really get the opportunity so I was really fortunate that it opened up and he thought I would be a good candidate."
Making the transition from playing receiver to coaching running backs has been a smooth one. Offensive line coach Jared Haas and QBs coach Dan Csencsitz, who both previously coached the running backs, were helpful in offering pointers about drills.
Plus, Snyder did a lot of researching and he was familiar with the Golden Bears’ spread offense, having played in it for four years.
"Playing slot receiver was a big help because we were always closer to the ball, so we had to know the running plays so we would know where to block and stuff," he said. "I had a lot of that down already too."
Besides the new class of freshmen, Snyder knew the other running backs on the team since he was teammates with them through the 2012 season. If he is friends with any of those players, though, he hasn’t let it affect his job.
"I actually think it helps (being a former player) because I know where they’re coming from since I was just in that role last year," Snyder said. "Once I got to (pre-season) camp, they know I took everything seriously when I was a player. They knew I was going to be business on the field."
As a coach, there is plenty of business off the field as well. His days often start at 6 a.m. with meetings and weight-lifting sessions. Then until practice is finished, followed by film sessions, Snyder typically isn’t done until about 8 p.m.
"Once camp is over and we get into a routine of each week during the season, it’s not bad," he said. "It’s just the same thing for a different team each week."
Among the biggest adjustments in his new role is getting to know the strengths and weaknesses of each running back and determining where they best help the team.
"It was kinda figuring out who fits into what running plays," said Snyder, whose backs ran for three TD’s and 97 yards in last Saturday’s 45-9 win over Millersville.
During his own playing days for the Golden Bears, Snyder certainly had a lot of strengths, hauling in 63 career receptions for 764 yards and two touchdowns, along with one rushing TD on a fake field goal.
In 2010, as a redshirt sophomore, he was part of the team that clinched Kutztown’s first-ever berth into the NCAA playoffs. Then in 2011, Snyder and the Golden Bears won the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference crown and returned to the NCAA dance, where they defeated Concorn 17-14 in the first-round and and suffered a 44-37 loss to New Haven.
"There were a lot of good athletes here all the years I was here, so I really had to work to get on the field and it took three or four years, but in the end, I think all the hard work paid off," said Snyder, who helped to lead Warwick to the District Three playoffs in 2006 and 2007.
It wasn’t only as a receiver that Snyder contributed for the Golden Bears. He was the holder on field goals and extra points and was a key part of kicker Jack Ruggieri’s Division-II record 127 straight extra points converted.
"That was kinda cool to be part of a record like that," Snyder said. "Even thought it’s not really one that gets noticed, it’s still something to say you’re a part of."
As a senior, Snyder put up career numbers with 39 catches for 502 yards and one TD, including a long of 38 yards, in 11 games. In the Golden Bears’ Senior Day game, Snyder caught a short four-yard pass to break the 500-yard mark, but he got twisted up while being tackled. His career ended on that play with a broken ankle, but nonetheless, he took away a lot of positive memories from 2012.
"For most people if you had 40 catches, you would probably be the second-leading receiver, but I was the fifth-leading receiver," said Snyder, who also was a six-time Dean’s List recipient and a Capital One Academic All-District One selection at Kutztown. "That’s how much we threw. We threw 50 times a game, so everyone was a viable option. I think we had five guys who had over 30 catches (led by Columbia product Colby Tuell with 70 receptions for 772 yards and 8 TD’s)."
With his days of beating defenders behind him, Snyder is now hoping to keep his competitive fire alive in coaching. He also plans to take grad classes in the spring toward his teacher’s certication.
As a player at Warwick and Kutztown, Snyder saw the passion that Warrior coach Bob Locker, Folmar and his other mentors had for coaching. It served as a positive influence on Snyder, who coached with the Warwick JV baseball team last spring and with the Lititz Odd Fellows over the past four summers, with whom he won a couple of championships.
"One of the reasons that I really enjoy coaching is because I just want to do as much as I can to help others," Snyder said. "It’s the perfect way to mix sports, which I love, with helping others."
More SNYDER, page B-6