Two of a kind

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Jorgen Hus and Chris Bodnar take their relationship to the next level

Ed Kapp
Sports Writer

In the game of football, one of the most important aspects of any team is the relationship between the squad’s punter and his long snapper.

Although the average fan may not realize – or care to admit – the significance of the player’s relationship, it is nevertheless crucial to almost any team’s on-field success.

Snap too low or too slow and your punter may be face-to-face with charging defenders – who would like nothing more than to disrupt the opposing team’s kicking game – before the ball can be successfully punted downfield.

If the snap is too strong or too far to either side, the punter may be in pursuit of the ball with, again, defenders looking to make a highlight-reel play at the kicker’s expense.

According to Jorgen Hus, who has been handling long-snapping duties for the University of Regina Rams over the past two seasons, it is generally bad news – at least for the kicking team – if the long snapper’s name is mentioned throughout the course of a game.

Hus, alongside Chris Bodnar – who has served as the Rams punter for the past two campaigns – have been working hard for nearly half-a-decade to ensure that Hus’ name is mentioned as little as possible.

After two years playing junior football together for the Saskatoon Hilltops and another two in the CIS, the pair from Saskatoon has done an excellent job in keeping Hus, well, anonymous on the field.

For Hus, who has snapped thousands of balls to Bodnar over the course of hundreds of hours of training and dozens of games, this is no coincidence.

Bodnar, with the help of Hus and his special teams unit, hasn’t managed to remain so anonymous, as he was named a CIS all-star for his punting in 2011.

Recognition and all-star nominations aside, it’s debatable that the biggest indicator of how good of a unit Hus and Bodnar make is that Bodnar was recently signed by the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Although Bodnar will be attending the Roughriders camp without Hus, he nevertheless emphasized how important his long snapper – who also happens to be his best friend – has been to his progression as a punter.

“I know I couldn’t have done my job and do as well as I have if I didn’t have Jorgen,” Bodnar, 23, admitted. “If you don’t have a good long snapper, you’re not going to be able to get your punts off. I know there were certain situations this year where, if the snap wasn’t as good as it was, we would have had a lot of blocked punts.

“He makes me want to get better every day, because I know how much work he puts in on a daily-basis.”

However, Hus – who conversely acknowledged Bodnar as his best friend – is hesitant to accept too much credit for Bodnar’s success.

“I think I’ve helped him a little bit,” said Hus, 22. “I think it’s helpful to get the ball in a good spot where we can make a play on it. At the end of the day, though, he’s got to kick the ball. He’s the one doing all the work and he does a great job with it.”

“I’ve always looked at it like it’s a two-way street,” Bodnar added. “He gets better by me catching the balls for him and I get better by working on my timing with him. I think we’re both thankful for each other. We both thank each other after every workout. We both know that, at the end of the day, we couldn’t do what we do if we didn’t have each other.”

Both special teams members insisted their close relationship off the field doesn’t hurt their on-field performances.

“I think [our relationship off the field] translates onto the field in a very positive way,” Hus offered. “It adds to the whole picture. We talk about the game all the time – we’re always talking about ways to get better.”

“I see and talk to him daily,” Bodnar said with a laugh. “Maybe too much, sometimes.”

Although Bodnar’s contract with the Roughriders may signal the end of his on-field relationship with Hus, the two insist that they will continue to train with each other for as long as they can.

This winter, Hus and Bodnar intend on traveling to Arizona to train with Greg Zauner, a long-time special teams coach in the National Football League, to sharpen their skills.

If Bodnar cracks the Roughriders roster, the duo’s trip to Arizona may be their final business trip together. According to Bodnar, however, the prospect of the two working together in the professional ranks may one day be a reality.

“[Hus] has worked at it every day,” Bodnar said. “It’s something that he continually works at. He’s almost always doing a perfect job. He’s the best in the CanWest – I think he’s the best in the country – and he just continues to get better every day. He’ll work hard in the off-season and probably have one more year with the Rams before he probably turns pro…If I don’t get a snap from him ever again as a Ram, then hopefully I can find him in the CFL sometime down the road. That would be the ideal situation. I think that would be a dream come true for both of us.”

For Hus, the prospect of one day playing professionally with Bodnar sounds all right, too.

“Oh, that would be pretty sweet if it happens,” Hus said with a chuckle. “If we both go, there’s a one-in-eight chance that it could happen, so you never know.”

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