MORGANTOWN – There is one constant in football and that is if you are looking for the most off-the-wall stories, don’t go to the quarterbacks or the wide receivers.

Offensive linemen are big, nice guys for the most part, but they don’t usually drive down the wrong side of road.

Linebackers get dinged enough to qualify as, shall we say, characters but the place you really want to go is into the room with the specialists.

You remember Pat McAfee at West Virginia, don’t you.

Need more be said?

It’s been that way through history. Tom Dempsey, who for years held the record for the longest field goal, had half a kicking foot. Garo Yepremian, whose claim to fame was the most botched up Super Bowl field goal try in history, made ties in his basement early in his career.

And there was the Cincinnati Bengals first punter out of Western Michigan, Dale Livingston, who was described by his coach as “built like a pear.”

“Dale is one of those guys who didn’t fit the football mold,” former Western Michigan captain and defensive lineman Bob Rowe once said. “Dale was not your svelt .... Dale was just Dale. He had a hell of a leg, a powerful leg. He was like, ‘As long as I can get the ball there, why do I need to look like Tarzan? I like the food and I like to eat and enjoy myself.’

“He was like, ‘My God, all I have to do is go out there four times a game, kick the ball 40 yards and hopefully win the game.’ I don’t know if he ever laid into the weights, but the boy could kick.”

We mention all this because, if you think of it, there’s something of a story in the West Virginia specialists room.

Certainly they are the only team today — and probably in history — who had a Japanese-American long snapper in Rex Sunahara and an Australian punter in Josh Growden.

Growden, a transfer to WVU this year from LSU, has had his story often told since his arrival, but that is because as a punter he often himself in the spotlight.

Sunahara, on the other hand, is the long snapper and as such he operates in the black hole of media, a position where you are seldom seen and seldom heard, unless you mess up.

But as he approaches his final game as a Mountaineer Friday afternoon at TCU, this son of the coach of the Mountaineer volleyball coach Reed Sunahana, proved himself to be both entertaining and captivating.

Now one may wonder what would draw attention his way in this final week of the season?

It’s a fair question and it came out of a comment Coach Neal Brown made during his meeting with the media earlier in the day.

“He’s actually one of the top pro prospects we have on our team,” Brown said.

That will catch your attention.

“The thing Rex does that’s different is he really runs well,” Brown said. “Two weeks ago — I haven’t looked yet this week because we are scrambled because it’s a short week — he was our leading tackler on the punt team.”

As Brown noted, “that’s unheard of,” speaking of the long snapper getting down the field and making more tackles than even the gunners on the outside.

“That speaks to his athleticism. We’re able to do some things on our punt team because of his athleticism that other teams can’t do,” Brown said. “He’s been extremely consistent. He’s going to play in an off-season all-star game. He’s got a chance, even though there are only 32 of them in the NFL, he’s got a chance to do it post college.

“We’ve used him in a different role than people traditionally use their center on the punt team. People are now trying to block him. He’s been a weapon for us. He will be missed.”

Out of Cleveland, Sunahara was a three-sport athlete in high school and, no, none of them were volleyball. He played football, pitched on the baseball team and was a good enough basketball player to play for Dan Hurley at Rhode Island.

But almost as soon as he went there, he knew the fit wasn’t right and so he came to WVU.

He had started long snapping about 10 years ago when he saw someone else doing it and thought “that’s cool.”

He did it through high school and then backed up Nick Meadows here for a couple of years before this summer when things changed big time for him.

“This summer was really big for me. I started learning the ins and outs of long snapping and learning to be the best long snapper I could be. Things really started taking off,” he said.

He went to work on his body and all the technical aspect — and there are a lot of them — came together so that he rose to another level.

“There’s a definite science to it,” Sunahara said. “There’s the swinging motion of the ball when you snap it. You are core engaged so you can get a more advantageous angle when you are snapping. There’s a lot of moving parts of everything.

“If you just bend and snap the football, you aren’t going to be able to do it. But if you put everything into it and understand, it comes easier.”

And, then comes the idea of making tackles. Now long snappers don’t get to practice that part of the game very often.

The tackling, that was just me wanting to help,” he said. “I wanted to show the team that I could be involved, too. Special teams are always pushed to the side, kept in the dark and don’t get our names called a lot so we’re trying to help as much as we can.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel

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