Chandler senior linebacker and long snapper Hank Pepper knows that in order to be great, you have to be willing to put in the work.
On top of his after-school practices with the Wolves, Pepper makes an hour-long drive to Shadow Mountain to train with Coach Ben Bernard of Arizona Elite Longsnapping.
Pepper is rated as the No. 2 long snapper in the nation by Kohl’s Kicking.
According to the Kohl’s Kicking website, Pepper “is arguably the most well-rounded snapper in America.”
There’s no special secret to being a standout long snapper, it just takes a lot of practice to excel in the position, Pepper said.
“It’s all about the way you finish with the football,” Pepper said. “You have to practice every day to perfect it.”
Read more: Highland vs. Chandler Players to Watch
In July, Pepper attended an invite only Kohl’s Kicking camp in Tennessee.
“I got good competition there,” Pepper said.
At that camp, Pepper averaged a .66 second snap time and hit all of his targets.
San Diego State University has offered the current #KohlsSnapping No. 2 ranked long snapper in America for the Class of 2021, Hank Pepper, a full scholarship.
— Kohl's Snapping Camps (@KohlsSnapping) July 22, 2020
During the quarantine earlier this year, Pepper dedicated most of his down time to staying in shape.
Pepper said he ran hills with teammate Brandon Bucker and trained with Kentrell Williams and Williams’ father who is a fitness trainer.
“We trained almost every day,” Pepper said. “We couldn’t really do much else.”
For long snapping, Pepper was recruited by Arkansas, Nevada, Virginia and Texas. As a linebacker, Pepper received offers from several Division II schools.
“He’s an unreal football player,” Chandler head coach Rick Garretson said. “(As a linebacker) he brings this demeanor and this energy to the position and to our defense. Hank has this time clock in his head to really time blitzes. He’s definitely made a huge impact for us at the linebacker position this year.”
— Hank Pepper (@hank81pepper) August 27, 2020
In August, Pepper committed to San Diego State where he will snap and likely play linebacker.
“The coaching staff was cool and easy to talk to,” Pepper said of his commitment. “I really like California and living there for four years sounds pretty cool.”
With the regular season quickly coming to an end, Pepper is looking forward to relishing every moment he has with his teammates.
“Usually practices would go pretty slow, but this year practices seem to have gone by so much quicker,” Pepper said. “I enjoy them so much more because we’re so close.”
The Highland Hawks (4-2) face the #5 nationally ranked Chandler Wolves (5-0) in our GameTime Arizona featured matchup – Friday, November 13 at 7:00 pm MT/8:00 pm CT.