FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas deep snapper Alan D’Appollonio was named the SEC’s special teams player of the week Monday morning.
The junior earned the honor after catching a 24-yard pass on a trick play during Arkansas’ 28-24 loss at Rutgers.
It was the first time a deep snapper received the SEC’s weekly honor since the conference began recognizing special teams players in 2002, according to Arkansas.
D’Appollonio helped the Razorbacks put their first points on the board when he pulled in a pass from punter Sam Irwin-Hill on a fourth-down play in the first quarter. It was the first reception of D’Appollonio’s career and proved to be Arkansas’ longest play of the game, setting up Zack Hocker’s 41-yard field goal.
“It was kind of a group decision,” Bielema said about the origins of the play. “Myself, Charlie (Partridge) and a couple coaches, but that was something actually Vanderbilt had run something very similar against that against Georgia, I believe, two years ago. So, it was some things we had seen on film.”
There was one issure during the week that had to be resolved for the play to become a success: D’Appollonio’s No. 53 made him an ineligible receiver. Bielema said Arkansas wanted to make sure D’Appollonio was in an eligible number on the play without having to tell officials, who would’ve announced it before the snap.
So Arkansas changed D’Appollonio’s number to 82 before the game and sent him out for pregame warmups.
Rutgers didn’t notice until D’Appollonio snapped the ball, ran to open space on the right side of the field and pulled in Irwin-Hill’s pass.
“That was actually a concern of ours, that they might catch it in pre-game,” Arkansas defensive line coach Charlie Partridge said of the number change. “But fortunately we were able to get away with it and good execution by the guys.”