46 days to Camp Rantoul
Counting down the 50 most important Illini
No. 46: Zach Hirth, LS
Why he’s important: Has a chance to become a four-year starter at one of the least publicized positions on a football field. But at one of the most critical. Hirth didn’t make his name known to many outside observers last year. Just the way a long snapper likes it. The Eureka, Mo., native handled his first year whipping snaps back to punter Justin DuVernois and holder Tim Russell with great aplomb. The redshirt sophomore didn’t have any botched snaps or ones that sailed past the heads of his intended targets in any of his 111 snaps last season (51 punts, 40 extra point attempts, 17 field goals and three fake extra point attempts). Seems like he learned much during his redshirt season from Zak Pedersen, the former three-year starter at long snapper who Hirth replaced last season.
Fast fact: Hirth will have a new holder to snap the ball to this year since Russell graduated. Early indiciations are either quarterback Reilly O’Toole or DuVernois will handle those chores.
Last year’s ranking: No. 47
Tomorrow: No. 45
No. 47: Eric Finney