Making the team a snap for Cowboy
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Monday, December 31, 2012
12/31/12 at 5:29 AM
DALLAS - The one-year anniversary of the biggest kick in Oklahoma State's football history is approaching. Connor Sinko likely remembers it as an anniversary of a moment when he was never happier to be crushed.
On Jan. 2, 2012, Quinn Sharp kicked a 22-yard field goal in overtime to give OSU its first victory in a BCS bowl.
Sinko, a junior long snapper from Cascia Hall, was one of three people (including holder Wes Harlan) to touch the ball on a play that resulted in a 41-38 Fiesta Bowl triumph over Stanford. Sinko didn't see Sharp's kick split the uprights because he was sort of occupied.
"I snapped the ball and I got smashed. I had two big nose guards come off and destroy me," Sinko said, adding that he wound up on the ground with two Stanford players on top of him.
"I knew he was going to make the kick. But I was listening for the crowd to erupt on my left side, which was the OSU side. Once I heard it, I was so happy. It was just a great day to be an OSU Cowboy."
Sinko said he could have had the whole Stanford team on top of him and he still would have been ecstatic. He described it as one of the greatest moments of his life.
Sinko will snap in his second career bowl game when OSU faces Purdue in Tuesday's Heart of Dallas Bowl. If fans don't know who he is, he's good with that.
"That's the whole goal," he said. "With the exception of my family and really close friends, if anyone doesn't know who I am, it means I am doing my job, and it's the best compliment a snapper can get is playing anonymous."
The only way Sinko can lose his anonymity is to botch a snap. Or if he provides background details about himself while not on the job.
Cascia Hall coach Joe Medina handed Sinko a business card for former OSU assistant coach Gunter Brewer. Sinko called Brewer, made an unofficial visit to Stillwater and was invited to be a preferred walk-on by former special teams coach Joe DeForest.
- Sinko was a left tackle and occasional nose guard at Cascia Hall. He began deep snapping (primarily for the junior varsity team) as a sophomore and eventually came to realize snapping might be a ticket to college football.
"It was pretty awesome," Sinko said. "It just fell into my lap."
Before Sinko made contact with OSU, he and his Cascia Hall mates played in a basketball tournament in San Diego while the Cowboys were there to play Oregon in the Holiday Bowl. Sinko's host family had tickets to the bowl, so he attended the game.
"Very odd coincidence," Sinko said. "It was probably a sign."
"I would be very bored as a normal student," Sinko said. "I don't know how they do it."
- Sinko earned academic scholarships and could have been a student instead of a student-athlete.
They competed for a starting job in 2011 and they both "won." Sinko snaps on field goals. Suter snaps on punts.
- Sinko is half of a two-snapper system. He splits snapping duties with Andrew Suter, a junior from Sugar Land, Texas.
"Instead of having one happy guy and one displeased guy, they compromised and put us on different units," Sinko said.
Coaches were able to make two snappers smile.
"And if you were to ever need a (replacement), you have got another guy there," coach Mike Gundy said.
"When I was at Maryland as an assistant and I was coaching the punt team and we lost our snapper, the next guy couldn't have snapped for an 8-year-old team. It got ugly real quick. It's good to have two of those guys."
Once upon a time, Sinko would have loved the opportunity to fill in for Todd Monken, the ex-offensive coordinator who left to become Southern Miss' head coach.
- Sinko will not be an interim play-caller in Dallas.
Sinko "lived and breathed" football when he was a wee lad in Jenks' youth program. When watching games, he paid close attention to formations and plays. He made his own playbooks (which his parents kept) and he sometimes offered his plays to coaches for their approval.
"I really wanted to be a coach," he said.
Cascia Hall allows students to "shadow" adults at work, sort of like an internship. Sinko, in pursuit of a coaching dream, hoped to shadow someone in Tulsa's athletic department during his junior year, but was told that would be a recruiting violation. Fallback plan? A friend of the family arranged for him to shadow doctors.
Sinko, a first-team academic All-Big 12 selection, has a new dream to be a team doctor for a university.
He loves being around athletics, even when at the bottom of a pile.
Heart of Dallas Bowl
OSU (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6)
11 a.m. Tuesday
At Cotton Bowl, Dallas
Radio: KFAQ am1170
Jimmie Tramel 918-581-8389
OSU's Connor Sinko, a Cascia Hall graduate, practices with teammates in Dallas on Saturday. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World