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Can anyone recall the last time Texas offered a football player from Reno, Nevada? What about a baseball player?
To put how rare a Northern Nevada athlete showing up on the Texas radar is, per UT archivist, @Jonathan Wells, who has probably done more research into previous UT rosters than anyone alive, if Robby Snelling chose Texas and lettered in football he’d be the first ever Reno native to do so.
It was going to take a rare athlete to motivate the University of Texas to recruit The Biggest Little City in the World and that’s exactly what Snelling, a left handed pitcher slash linebacker, is. Forget Reno, you just don’t often find that combination anywhere. Not only does it require a unique size, athletic, and coordination combination, it requires the proper mindset. A mindset you’ll soon learn the McQueen high school junior has.
Inside Texas: Let’s start with what you’re looking for the most in a college choice. Are you thinking more baseball, football, or a blend of the two?
Robby Snelling: I’m looking for a blend of the two. I want to see how well the two coaches work with each other, how their communication is, who will give me my best opportunity to excel at both for as long as I can before I have to decide between the two.
IT: Do you have a preference between baseball and football?
RS: I can’t pick a favorite, I like whatever season I’m in. When it’s football season, I love it. When it’s baseball season, I love it.
IT: The way amateur baseball is these days, it seems like it’s year-round.
RS: One of the benefits of where I live is it’s tough to play year-round because of the cold weather. It’s like that in the Midwest and elsewhere. It allows me to not only play other sports but I get a chance to rest my arm.
IT: There’s a lot to like on the baseball side of things. I’ve read your fastball ranges between 87-93. Is that accurate?
RS: I’m consistently hitting the low to mid-90’s now. A couple of weeks ago I topped out at 94 but it hasn’t been in a game yet.
IT: How are you with the bat in your hands?
RS: If I wasn’t playing football I’d definitely consider myself a two-way guy. For not focusing on hitting I’m not bad at it. My travel-ball coach says I could be a two-way player. I’m hitting in the four-hole for my high school and travel team (Nor Cal Blue). Pitching is where it’s going to be for me long-term, though.
IT: The elephant in the room, is, what happens if the major leagues come calling? You’re very highly rated so I assume that’s at least an option.
RS: College is the first priority but Major League Baseball is still a possibility for sure. If it gets to a point they’re starting to talk about money we can’t turn down, we’ll have to consider it as a family. If you get drafted out of high school for baseball you can go back to school and they’ll pay for it. You can play a sport as long as it’s not the one you went pro in. College is the first priority, though.
IT: What schools are you hearing from the most?
RS: The University of Arizona has been good with communication with baseball and football. I just started to talk to UT and that’s going well. UCLA and Nebraska are two more I talk to often.
IT: All right, we know you’re a pitcher in baseball, what are you being recruited for in football. Watching your most recent clips I could see you being a tight end. Also, what’s your current size?
RS: Schools are recruiting me for inside linebacker and outside linebacker and I’m 6-foot-3, 215 pounds.
IT: It’s such a rarity for a pitcher to also play a physical position in football.
RS: Yes, normally they’re quarterbacks or receivers. People are surprised, they’ll say, “you don’t protect your body. You want to dish out.” Dishing it out is how you protect your body.
IT: Exactly. It’s like Nolan Ryan versus Robin Ventura.
RS: That’s the perfect analogy!
IT: Speaking of pros, Texas has former All-Star Troy Tulowitzki on its coaching staff. Is that something that registers?
RS: I noticed that. It’s definitely great, having that insight from a guy who has been at the highest level. That’s where every player wants to get no matter what sport they’re playing. You can pick their brain to help get you to the level they played at.
IT: Do you have any school visits planned?
RS: We’re going to Oregon, June 4th to the 6th; UT June 10th to the 13th; and Arizona June 16th to the 18th.
IT: What about a decision timeline?
RS: We’re just going to let things play out. We’ll decide no later than December.
IT: You’ve mentioned your family a few times. Sounds like you’re close and have a great support system.
RS: I really do. Both of my parents are teachers, and my dad is my football coach. They’re very supportive, whether it’s school, football, or baseball. We drive all the way to the Bay Area for travel-ball. In June we’ll only be home for six days.
IT: Ah ha! Your dad is a football coach. That clears things up a bit for me. It’s clear you appreciate them. I’m going to catch back up with you after your June visits. I appreciate your time. Safe travels and good luck.
RS: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Photo via Michael Ocampo