You could take die-hard college football fans from across the country and it’s certain most could not name the starting long snapper for his or her school.
“No one notices a snapper until he does something wrong,” said special teams coordinator Jamie Christian. “I don’t ever worry about him doing anything (wrong); a bad snap or anything; he’s real consistent.”
At UH, that no-name guy is No. 86 Brandon Hartson — a long snapper who seemingly defined perfection last season. Through 92 PATs, 17 field goals and 15 punts, Hartson had no errant snaps.
“You’ve got to be perfect 100 percent of the time,” Hartson said. “You’ve got to always be looking to be stronger and faster.”
The Fairfield native — who was also recruited by Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M — grew up around football. In fact, Hartson’s cousin, Grady Allen played in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons for five seasons and his second cousin, Dennis Allen is the current head coach with the Oakland Raiders.
“In third grade, I was water boy for the varsity team until eighth grade so I went to every football game, every basketball game,” Hartson said. “I’ve been around the sport my whole life.”
One of Hartson’s most memorable experiences around the UH football program is actually one that came before he ever took a snap in red and white.
“Once I graduated from high school, my mom passed away,” Hartson said.
“It was amazing because when she passed away, at the funeral were coach Sumlin, coach Levine and Mikado Hinson (UH FCA campus director); three people in the football team that didn’t have to be there and they were there the whole time. They all text me every day; just having people to rely on was a big help.”
After redshirting in 2008, Hartson competed in all 14 games with the Cougars in 2009 and has since grown into a mentor for the younger players — especially through the tough opening start this season.
“It’s our first time being 0-3 right now, but we have a lot of young starters, and we’ve just got to keep their mind-set right and keep them in the game,” Hartson said. “It’s been a rough season, but we’re still undefeated in conference so that’s the main thing. We’ve just got to keep on pushing as hard as we can because it will all pass.”
Beyond this season, the redshirt senior has aspirations of following in his cousins’ footsteps, something his current special teams coach believes he has a chance of.
“You never know with that,” Christian said of Hartson. “I think he’s talented enough, and he gets it back there fast enough to where I think he could have a chance.”
Hartson and the Cougars will seek to get back on track next weekend when they take on the Rice Owls at Reliant Stadium.