Ben Bachelier

In front of his television in Nogales, Hop Bachelier has squinted and tried to follow the harried procession of special teams players running on and off the field.

"It's nerve-racking," said the 79-year-old former Arizona Wildcats baseball player, "because I want to see his number, but there's so many people going in and out of the game."

His grandson, Ben, is in there somewhere.

NAU's senior long-snapper is more noticeable, it seems, off the field.

The last two seasons, his 3.97 GPA has been the best on the Lumberjacks, who open the season Saturday at Arizona Stadium.

The Nogales High School graduate even helps prepare the field.

As a member of the "Cardinals Crew" for three years, he has cut outdoor practice fields and tamped down artificial turf inside the Walkup Skydome to prepare for NFL training camp.

Remaining anonymous isn't the worst thing when you play Bachelier's position.

"No one notices the kicker or long-snapper," he said, "until you mess up."

Without his ability to snap the football on field goals, extra points and punts, Bachelier wouldn't have made it onto a Div. I-AA team at 6 feet, 230 pounds. And the exercise science major would have finished his undergraduate degree already.

"I'd probably be in graduate school right now," he said.

Bachelier first started snapping in middle school, and continued at Nogales High.

A coach there suggested he attend a Phoenix kicking and snapping camp run by legendary punter Ray Guy, where Bachelier learned techniques and strength exercises to practice alone.

"I think it was probably one of the best things we did for him as parents," said his dad, Marcel, who was an All-America baseball player at Pima College before playing for the Wildcats.

Despite his family's UA history, Ben Bachelier chose to attend Northern Arizona because of his major - and the fact he likely could not have made Mike Stoops' team.

"The U of A," he said, "was just a little too close to home."

He didn't join the Lumberjacks the fall of his freshman year - NAU had a snapper - but walked on that next spring.

He played in two games in 2008, then became entrenched as a regular in 2009.

Because coach Jerome Souers trains the specialists, they're often left alone during practice.

"Long-snapping is a skill that's 20 percent talent and 80 percent development," Souers said. "They aren't always supervised.

"It's a hard preparation model for those guys."

The self-motivated Bachelier thrives nonetheless; after all, he's received one B since the start of high school and will apply to physical therapy schools after graduating in December.

"Our coach makes sure we go through all the same lifting and running that the other guys do," he said. "They do a lot more than I do at practices. I know that, and they know that.

"They also know the job specialists do."

Bachelier's work, on and of the field, isn't unnoticed.

"He's a model human being, and I don't throw that around lightly," Souers said. "His maturity level, his approach to life, his education, are great models for anybody to see."