In the summer of 2014, Wes Farnsworth received an offer any football-playing teenage would kill to have.
Ohio State’s head coach Urban Meyer, a future College Football Hall of Famer, extended Farnsworth, then a standout at Bishop Manogue, a scholarship offer. Only 17 at the time, Farnsworth was at a camp at Ohio State when Meyer gave him that take-it-or-leave it offer. He had to accept the scholarship that day or the offer would be revoked.
Shockingly, Farnsworth turned down the offer as well as scholarships from Washington and Cal to commit to Nevada that summer. And even though Ohio State went on to win the national title later than year in 2014 and Washington also reached the College Football Playoff in 2016, Farnsworth, a senior long snapper who will play his final college game for Nevada in the Arizona Bowl later next week, has no regrets.
“Once I made that decision, my focus has been on the Pack since day one,” Farnsworth said. “I haven’t had a regret since day one. Playing here has been a real blessing for me. It’s been the best decision of my life and getting the opportunity to actually play in a bowl game is really important to us, and playing that game to the best of my abilities is going to be something that is really important to me.”
Farnsworth’s job the last four seasons has basically been to make sure people don’t know his name. When you know the name of the long snapper, it’s usually because he misfired on getting the ball to the punter or holder. But Farnsworth only had a couple of those during his Wolf Pack career and he earned enough respect from his teammates to be voted one of the team’s three captains this season.
Nevada coach Jay Norvell called Farnsworth “a model of consistency" and raved about his impact on the team.
“To be successful, you have to be consistent and you have to work at a very high level,” Norvell said. “That’s what Wes has done. It’s kind of the position where if you’re talking about him he probably did something bad. But he’s a guy we wanted to recognize as an all-conference player. It’s really too bad that long snappers don’t get recognized because he would certainly be worthy of that.”
Nevada nominated Farnsworth as an all-conference return man even though he’s not a returner but a long snapper. But that’s how much the Wolf Pack wanted him to be named an all-league player.
One of the reasons Farnsworth did commit to Nevada, he said at the time, was because he wanted to try and play defensively as a linebacker. That never materialized but Farnsworth, who is on course to graduate in May, has cherished his time playing for his hometown college.
“The connections I’ve made here, the things it’s done for me in the community, the friends I’ve made, the bonds I’ll have for life are really what’s made it worthwhile,” Farnsworth said.
Nevada’s special teams is as tightly bonded as any group in the nation, the guys piling into the famed van of punter Quinton Conaway, which includes a seating chart and name tags carved into the door. Farnsworth said those relationships are what he’ll remember most from his college experience
“We have a special bond and if you’re ever looking for one of us you can just ask the other because we’re always together and we’ve always got each other’s back and we’re here for each other,” Farnsworth said.
During Farnsworth’s freshman year, the Wolf Pack won the Arizona Bowl and he’ll cap his career at Nevada in the same bowl when the team plays Arkansas State on Dec. 29. Farnsworth is one of 16 Wolf Pack seniors who will play their final games for the school that day, which he expects to be an emotional one.
“While I’m playing, I’ll be able to focus up and play my best but after the game it’s going to be a little crazy knowing four years went by so fast with so many games,” said Farnsworth, who has logged 50 games in silver and blue. “It might be a little emotional, but we have to focus up and get that game.”
Recognized as one of the best long snappers in the nation, Farnsworth has NFL aspirations. With only 32 long snappers in the league, it will take a high level of proficiency and a big dose of good fortune to make it in the NFL, but Farnsworth plans on doing whatever is required to at least put himself in that mix.
“I’ll be training and working as hard as I can to make that happen,” he said. “We’ll see what happens. I’ll be blessed to get my degree from Nevada, so if all else fails I’ll have something else to fall back on.”
In addition to helping the Wolf Pack return to a bowl this season after a two-year drought, Farnsworth enjoyed watching his alma mater Bishop Manogue’s run to the Northern 4A state championship game. The Miners were unable to win their last game of the season, falling to Bishop Gorman in the title tilt, but Farnsworth is focused on making sure his final college game ends in victorious fashion.
“We just appreciate his focus and his sacrifice to the program and his consistency for the program over the years,” Norvell said. “He’s one of those guys who will be missed when he’s gone.”
Sports columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MurrayNSN.