In 2018, Michigan # 12 held a 13-7 lead over Wisconsin # 15 during the first run of the second half.
The Wolverines faced a quarterfinals of their own 44 and lined up for the jump-off. When they got the kick off, a flag came out to screech the snapper and gave Jim Harbaugh’s squad a new set of downs.
Five games later, the Wolverines were in the end zone, the first of 25 consecutive points in a 38-13 loss for the Badgers.
But that would all come later. For a moment, those who watched the game were consumed by the name of the long-snappers on the receiving end of the sentence: Shrimp Cheeseman.
“All Wisconsin fans say, ‘Why didn’t he come to Wisconsin?'” Cheeseman said.
For as long as he could remember, his last name was always a point of discussion.
“People always ask me, ‘Is it Cheese-man or is it Cheese-min?’ And I say, “I think it’s cheese-min.” … But yeah, people just call me ‘cheese’. “
And Cheeseman notes that the fun doesn’t stop there as his first name means “shrimp” in Spanish.
“So it’s like Shrimp Cheeseman is my name,” he said. “I’ve never seen anyone write it like that, and I can never get a keychain [gift shop]. “
But in a few weeks he might find his name on one NFL draft Map. Because while the name might be the first thing you notice about Cheeseman, he’s also one of the best long snapper in the nation, currently ranked number 2 on Mel Kiper Jr .. (each of the last six drafts has been long -Snapper selected.)
There isn’t much fame for long snapper. Their size cannot be measured by deals, yards, or touchdowns, and attention usually only comes when they make a mistake.
Persistence is required to have any of the 32 long snapping jobs in the NFL, and that’s exactly what Cheeseman and his trainer Casey Casper of Kohl’s Kicking, Punting, and Long Snapping are aiming for. Maintaining that consistency after last year was a challenge but he was able to overcome it.
Cheeseman says he pulled out of the 2020 season because Harbaugh told him there was no scholarship available. (The former walk-in had already received a scholarship in 2018.) At that point, Cheeseman needed to know if he would have one before renewing the lease on his Ann Arbor apartment.
Originally from New Albany, Ohio, the Cheeseman and his family were unable to pay tuition outside of the state. Given the added uncertainty caused by the pandemic, he decided to skip one final season and start training for the NFL at home this year.
“A couple of weeks later they brought the Big Ten season back and I was home,” said Cheeseman. “And there was nothing I could do about it. I was helpless at that point. I’ve already left, I’ve graduated.”
“It was emotionally exhausting,” he added. “It was unfortunate. It was tough for me. It was my first season in 14 years that I hadn’t played football.”
At that point, Casper said, ‘I said to him,’ You know that a year off like this will put you off because these guys who are still playing are going to train with the team and work with the team. And you know that Food, the resources as you call it, just have to work so much harder.
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“‘It will be so much more enjoyable if you can do it, but it will be so much more difficult. You have to stay afterwards.'”
During the fall of 2020 and through 2021, Cheeseman blamed himself. He bought a tripod for his iPad so that he could film better. He would send Casper a movie and they would think about it and try to figure out things he could do better.
“It’s cool where he’s got his knowledge of the game, just the little nuances,” said Casper. “He and I enjoyed it because that’s what I do for a living. I break down long snapshots and movies, tens of thousands of clips a year, and figure out little things and why, and talk to people like him and other NFL people, and it’s just cool to have that, people who take it to the level that he’s a student of it, it’s like becoming an expert.
“How can we get better? How can we get faster, better rotation, more accuracy, all that stuff?”
Cheeseman takes these little details into his training with his mechanics and goes a step further by making his training feel as close to game situations as possible.
“Often times you will see snappers just wanting to snap back and forth. You might have five snaps in a minute,” said Cheeseman. “That’s unrealistic for the game. I like to imagine the situation. I might just stand over the side and then jog a little to the ball. Visualize the fronts, visualize four guys on my left. Four men on my right or five men on my left, three men on my right. And imagine what Personal Protection will tell me and take my specific steps. “
Michigan’s pro-style punt system is beneficial for cheesemans too. Most college teams perform spread punts, where they grab the ball and immediately run into the field. There is an adjustment for most long snapper entering the NFL.
“The hardest part about being a good NFL snapper is blocking,” Casper said. “Because you have to grab a ball, step back, and catch up with a guy who’s in a dead sprint next to you. It’s very, very difficult and that’s why the guys lose their jobs, block them. Cam has been doing this for three years, four years , and he trains on it. He doesn’t have to learn everything now.
“He just checks every box. He really does.”
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The remainder of Cheeseman’s days is filled with an anatomy class at Columbus State Community College for dental school in Ohio State. He passed the Dental Admission Test (DAT) back in August and scored over 92 percent on the exam, which helped him get into the state of Ohio.
In addition to his workouts and classwork, Cheeseman worked in an orthodontic practice in Gahanna, Ohio. He checks patients’ well-being by taking temperatures, handing out mouthwash, and filling out symptom forms.
And while Cheeseman has dentistry school ahead of him before he can actually practice dentistry (presumably after football), he’s got Dr. James McNamara at Ann Arbor who has worked in the field for half a century.
“He’s really serious about this NFL thing,” said McNamara. “But he takes the dentistry thing the same way. I mean, he was inducted into Michigan and the state of Ohio for his own reasons. It wasn’t because he was a soccer player, I can tell you.”
McNamara has known Cheeseman since 2018 and invited him to watch in his office. McNamara eventually hired Cheeseman as a research fellow at the University of Michigan, where the two of them collaborated on the first major article on the Carriere device, which is a method of repairing an underbite.
“Being co-author of an important paper, as your first paper, was a big deal,” said McNamara. “And it doesn’t happen very often that I made someone do it, but they worked so hard and put not just the hours but the mental time into understanding the importance of what we were doing.”
Regarding dentistry and dentistry, Cheeseman said, “It’s like a safety blanket. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen and I applied and was accepted. So I have that in my back pocket.
“But if the NFL works this year, I’ll just apply again.”
At the moment he will continue to grind ahead of the draft.
“Long snapping is unique, you have to be perfect,” said Casper. “That’s the expectation. And it’s out of reach, but you can keep working towards it.”