By Zac Ellis
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Scott Sypniewski stands out when he enters the football team room at Vanderbilt’s McGugin Center. Sypniewski is a graduate transfer long snapper from Michigan, so of course he’s the new kid on the block. But that’s not exactly what Sypniewski’s teammates notice when he opens the door.
“During fall camp, Scott is the one guy who comes into our meetings each morning wearing a suit,” said Jeff Genyk, Vanderbilt’s special teams’ coach.
Sypniewski’s dapper attire is no accident. It’s a requirement of the fifth-year senior’s marketing program in Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management.
“Every day is either business casual or business formal,” Sypniewski said. “But I don’t mind looking nice.”
Regardless of wardrobe, Sypniewski would be hard-pressed to blend in on West End. He transferred to Vanderbilt this summer after graduating from Michigan in May. On the field, Sypniewski was a mainstay on the Wolverines’ special teams, a three-year starter at long snapper who appeared in 36 career games in Ann Arbor. His final two starts with Michigan came against Ohio State and Florida State.
But Sypniewski began searching for opportunities to extend his playing career following his graduation from Michigan last spring. He quickly found an ideal situation in Nashville with Vanderbilt, where he could continue his studies as a marketing student at the Owen School. Meanwhile, Sypniewski would also join up with the Commodores, who needed a jolt on special teams following the graduation of snappers Wilson Johnson and Jacob Schultz.
It didn’t take long for Sypniewski to feel at home at Vanderbilt.
“I’ve been welcomed with open arms,” Sypniewski said. “The whole team has been welcoming. We’ve put in a lot of work during the summer, and now it’s transitioning well into fall camp.”
Sypniewski’s teammates and coaches have felt his impact, as well. Genyk said another snapper pulled the coach aside during fall camp and admitted the whole unit had performed better with Sypniewski’s addition to the roster.
“He said, ‘Coach, last year when we had difficulties snapping, I was snapping poorly, as well. Now all three of us are throwing the ball back there in strikes,’” Genyk said. “Scott has provided immediate leadership to the specialist group. His demeanor is one of such confidence, with such a handle of what his responsibilities are, that it has significantly rubbed off on the other players.”
The Commodores hope Sypniewski can provide a spark on special teams. Genyk said more precise snaps have allowed punters Sam Loy and Reid Nelson, as well as placekicker Tommy Openshaw, to “breathe” easier this fall. That element of experience should add to a veteran squad that features 16 returning starters on offense and defense and 38 total upperclassmen.
Sypniewski might be new to Vanderbilt. But the well-dressed snapper still plans to close his college career on a high note.
“Building chemistry is all about repetition,” Sypniewski said. “So far we’ve built a good connection. There’s a trust factor to what we do, and I think I’m beginning to earn that trust. I think it’s going to be a really special year and something I’m glad I can be a part of.
“Even if it’s just for one year, these are my brothers, too.”