The Patrick Mannelly Award, which honors the best Football Bowl Subdivision senior long snapper, announced its finalists for 2021’s third annual award Monday night, and UCF’s Alex Ward was among the three honored.

The other two finalists are Pittsburgh’s Cal Adomitis and USC’s Damon Johnson. The winner of this year’s award, which is presented by Zebra Technologies benefitting Bernie’s Book Bank, will be announced at an award ceremony in Chicago, Dec. 11, 2021.

Ward has been UCF’s long snapper the last three seasons and earned American Athletic Conference All-Academic honors each of his first four years in school at UCF.

This season, Ward has continued to excel as a snapper and has recorded one tackle and a fumble recovery.

Past winners of the Mannelly Award are Thomas Fletcher of Alabama in 2020 and John Shannon of Notre Dame in 2019.

We live in the age of the superstar. The big gun. The first pick. The franchise player. But the more we come to understand the game of football, the more we learn to revere the guy who sets every field goal, extra point, and punt in motion – including nail-biting field goals that make or break games, seasons and sometimes even careers. It’s time to show some love for the Long Snapper.

Long Snappers don’t make the cover of the program. They’re rarely asked to sign autographs. You don’t typically see them being interviewed before the game. But Long Snappers aren’t driven by these things. Quiet, selfless, focused, and courageous, the Long Snapper is content to trade conventional superstardom for the opportunity to do one job very well.

The spirit of the Long Snapper lives, not just on the football field, but out in the real world as well. The nurse who hands the right instrument to the surgeon is a Long Snapper. The legal professional who works late into the night doing the research that uncovers the precedent that wins the case is a Long Snapper. Anyone who toils in quiet dedication to the greater good is a Long Snapper. No matter what you do, when you do it with excellence in the face of great pressure, you are a Long Snapper.

The Patrick Mannelly Award presented by Zebra Technologies is a new vehicle through which football’s unsung workhorses can finally bask in the warm glow of appreciation. Now we celebrate the best Long Snappers in college football. And in doing so, we honor the Long Snapper in all of us.