Long-snapper Stelter signs Pro Contract with the UFL’s Sacramento Mountain Lions

He had been busting his rear for years, working camps, teaching youngsters all over the country the tools of the long-snapping trade. He had also won a few championships with the St. Paul Pioneers. But, despite being what his coaches consider one of the best long-snappers in the country, Kyle Stelter’s odyssey for a spot in professional football had not yet reached its goal.

But, just as Stelter was preparing to start a student teaching job, everything changed. The Sacramento Mountain Lions of the professional United Football League called and offered him a job. Stelter heads for training camp this week.

“It was unbelievable,” said the 24-year-old who still has a semester to finish at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. “When I got that call, I knew that my dream is still alive.”

Just as the father’s of left-handed boys are well-advised to see if their sons possess a decent fastball, so too do long-snappers have a rare skill coveted by football coaches. There just are not that many people out there who possess the speed and accuracy to sling a football back between their legs to National Football League standards. But the pros are always searching.  Pioneers Head Coach Mark Heiser thinks they have found one of those rare talents in Stelter.

“Kyle is, without a doubt, one of the best in the business,” Heiser said. “We are very happy that he has earned this chance to play professional football and keep his dreams alive.”

Stelter credited the Pioneers and his St. Paul teammates with helping him hone his skills these past three seasons. He has earned all-star honors in the Northern Elite Football League and his nearly flawless delivery is a rarity in semi-pro football.

“Teams just are not lucky enough to have a great long-snapper like Kyle,” Pioneers special teams coordinator Peter Globa said. “We have been lucky for three seasons now. We wish him nothing but the best.”

Joining the Mountain Lions, part of the four-team United Football League, will not only earn Stelter a paycheck for his prowess, it will give him a chance for even greater exposure. The league has featured former NFL coaches and players in its four-year existence and CBS recently announced that it will bring the UFL to a national television audience. Other teams include the Omaha Nighthawks, the Virginia Destroyers and the Las Vegas Locomotives.

CBS Sports Network will televise two UFL games per week, every Wednesday and Friday, throughout the league’s eight-week season. Games begin Sept. 19. CBS Sports Network reaches 99 million households across the country.

“Playing for the Pioneers these last three seasons has been great,” Stelter said, as he prepares to leave for training camp. “The guys and the coaches have been great. They really allowed me to stay sharp and work on my dream.”

The UFL began in 2009. The Las Vegas Locomotives won the first two championships and the William Hambrecht Trophy, named for the UFL founder and Locomotives owner, but were denied a third title last Oct. 21, 2011, when they fell to the Virginia Destroyers. Marty Schottenheimer coaches the Destroyers; Jim Fassel, who took the New York Giants to Super Bowl XXXV, is president, general manager and coach of the Locomotives.

Well-known players who have worn the UFL uniform include quarterbacks Jeff Garcia, Josh McCown, J.P. Losman and Daunte Culpepper, running backs Ahman Green and Dominic Rhodes, kickers Matt Bryant, Steven Hauschka and Graham Gano and kick returner Clifton Smith.