Note: This story appears in the Friday, Aug. 9 newspaper on Page B1.
Devin King has been known as a lot of things.
Soldier, officer, college student, walk-on, wrestler and a football player.
After Thursday, he might be able to add another title — world-record holder.
King, a fifth-year long snapper for the Ohio University football team, broke the Guinness World Record for a long snap Thursday afternoon inside Peden Stadium. In front of more than a half-dozen official witnesses and at least four video cameras to verify the feat, King launched a long snap an even 38 yards.
The previous Guinness World Record was 36.96 yards, set by Erik Lawson on Dec. 10, 2017.
“It’s pretty cool,” King said afterward. “It’s something I didn’t really think about.
“It doesn’t even seem real at this point.”
All told, King had five attempts before be broke the mark. He tried three from the south end zone at Peden Stadium — aiming toward midfield — before deciding to switch ends after constantly-changing breezes thwarted his attempts.
King, and all the cameras, changed to the north end zone. On his third attempt from that end, King easily cleared the previous mark. He tried two more, to see if he could hit 40 yards, but didn’t get much help from the swirling winds.
“I was a little nervous. I’ve thrown some 39, almost 40 (yards) and I was struggling to beat 36,” King said. “I’m only a long snapper but I’ve got that athlete mindset. I know I can do better.
“But I’m happy. It’s over the mark. I’ll take it.”
The witnesses, which included a couple journalists, a radio crew and four members of local law enforcement, all signed paperwork attesting to the accuracy of the deed. The testimonials, and accompanying video, will be sent to Guinness for authenticity.
King broke the world record on Thursday, but may not be officially recognized for doing so for weeks. That’s fine with him. He knows he did it, despite some jitters.
“I was super nervous right there,” King admitted. “I just didn’t want to disappoint everyone who came out to watch. Honestly, that’s the most stressed out I’ve been long snapping in a while.”
The record-breaking attempt is just the latest chapter in a storied athletic career for King, who first tried his hand at punting back in high school at Sheridan H.S. in northern Perry County.
It didn’t go well. So he switched over to snapping.
“Ever since then, if we’re messing around in the wrestling room or whatever, I’d find a football and long snap it to make sure I still got it,” King said.
He never lost it, despite serving in the Army National Guard out of high school, and later in ROTC program at Ohio University where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 2018.
While at Ohio, King continued to pursue wrestling — he was a walk-on heavyweight despite giving up 40-50 pounds — but kept his long-snapping skills sharp.
When Myles Chapman — a former Bobcat long snapper and a former King roommate — suggested he tryout for the football team last spring, King followed through.
“I was out of town, on a recruiting trip, and (Ohio Director of Football Operations) Chris Rodgers texts me that this kid wants to walk on as a long snapper,” explained Ohio Special Teams Coordinator Brian Haines.
“I was ‘Okay, whatever. Get some video.’ So Chris gets some video, and says ‘You need to see this.’ I saw it, and I was sold,” he added.
King joined the program in the spring of 2018. His snap time (from snap to punter or holder) was exceptional. He was athletic enough to be an asset on coverage.
By the second game of the 2018 season, King was elevated into the starter’s role as the snapper. King never had an issue.
“His work ethic, his drive, that’s what sets him apart,” Haines said. “He’s good and always working to get better.”
King, now in grad school and on scholarship this fall, has become an essential part of the Bobcats’ stellar special teams. He’s the first to tell you how much coaching has helped him along the way — including Ohio wrestling coach Joel Greenlee — and the bond he’s developed with Ohio punter Michael Farkas and place-kicker Louie Zervos has him feeling at home at Peden Stadium.
“I really feel like I’m part of the team now. Last year I was a wrestler who snapped footballs,” King said. “This year I feel like a football player now.”
King is fully aware that his exploits on Thursday might lead to an avalanche of attempts from around the country as specialists on college football teams try to find ways to fill some of the long hours of training camp.
After all, it’s what he would do if he saw someone set a world record.
“100 percent. There’s a lot of good, strong long snappers out there. And we’re all competitive so somebody’s gonna see it,” King said. “It’s just like the bottle cap challenge. I saw it and said ‘I can do that.’
“They’re going to see this and think ‘I can do that.’ So I imagine there will be some that keep one-upping me until somebody is at some freaky number. But I’m happy right now.”