Can a guard take a snap from the center if the QB or RB doesn't? Is the guard an eligible running back?

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    The term guard I'm using to ask this question is in formation. The guard pulls behind the center after the snap. The center holds the ball between his legs and behind him, and the pulling guard takes the snap. At no time does a back contact the ball. Hope this explains further what I was asking. Thank you for all the feed back. Coach D, I agree with your article 4 and this not being a legal snap.
    – CoachPat
    Nov 17 '16 at 16:46

The answer is no. A guard cannot take the snap directly from the center.

Anyone not on the line of scrimmage can take a snap - rules of football. A guard is a position next to the center on the line of scrimmage so the answer is - No.

A guard however can receive a handoff (not a snap) from anyone including the quarterback. The guard can also pick the ball up off of the ground if the center chooses to leave it there (many trick play variations here).

Article 4: Legal Snap. A snap is a backward pass. The snap must be received by a player who is not on the line at the snap, unless the ball first strikes the ground. If the ball first strikes the ground, or is muffed by an eligible backfield receiver, or quarterback under center, it can be recovered and advanced by any player.

  • @Joe - Added rule. This is pretty basic though.
    – Coach-D
    Nov 15 '16 at 23:31
  • Thanks. Though this seems to suggest that it would be possible to run a snap to a guard as long as it bounced off the ground first...
    – Joe
    Nov 16 '16 at 4:15
  • @Joe That is what I said in my original answer. If it is on the ground it is also not a snap, and is at best considered a loose ball and at worst a fumble.
    – Coach-D
    Nov 16 '16 at 23:12

If you are asking whether a player that typically plays guard can take the snap, the answer is yes... with a real caveat:

From the NFL rules...
First, Rule 5, Section 1, Article 2:

All players must wear numerals on their jerseys in accordance with Rule 5, Section 4, Article 3(c).
Such numerals must be by playing position, as follows:
(a) quarterbacks, punters, and placekickers: 1-19;
(d) offensive guards and tackles: 60-79;

But second, Rule 5, Section 3, Article 1:

An offensive player wearing the number of an ineligible pass receiver (50-79 and 90-99) is permitted to line up in the position of an eligible pass receiver (1-49 and 80-89), and an offensive player wearing the number of an eligible pass receiver is permitted to line up in the position of an ineligible pass receiver, provided that he immediately reports the change in his eligibility status to the Referee, who will inform the defensive team.

So, combined with Coach-D's answer on how a snap must be performed, I believe this narrows it down that a person who usually plays as guard can take the snap... but only after they report as eligible (since all backfield players are eligible, and you must be in the backfield to take the snap).

That player also cannot return to playing guard until they skip a play (or a timeout, possession change or similar events).

  • If they line up at quarterback they are not a guard! Also numbers isn't a football rule it is kind of an NFL rule. Anyone can line up at QB. In the NFL you have to report as eligible - but even this is murky at best in the NFL. A "guard" could also have an eligible number. I think the OP could clarify their question but the answer is NO a guard cannot take a direct snap from the snapper (center). If the "guard" is in the backfield lined up as a QB, then he is a QB, not a guard. An answer like this suggest that players are assigned a position, and they aren't.
    – Coach-D
    Nov 16 '16 at 23:18
  • While that is true, that players don't have assigned positions... it's still also true that if you watch the lineup announcements before the game, read the program, check the roster webpage, play fantasy sports, or have sports cards... players of course are indeed regularly associated with a set position. So while I absolutely agree that there is never any requirement they play in that position, some people have shown they are disposed to interpret this in that direction, so I decided to further clarify for that viewpoint. And that's why I tried to say "typically plays guard" consistently :-) Nov 17 '16 at 7:22
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    OK the OP has clarified and he isn't asking for the "typically plays guard". I hope the questions on the site haven't become that trivial where we expect the worst from the OPs.
    – Coach-D
    Nov 17 '16 at 18:48
  • No worries, sometimes that's how it goes. Certainly can be frustrating when people aren't clear. I try to make the best of it, and remain calm about it all as best as possible. Nov 17 '16 at 23:41

I would think this analogous to the Wildcat formation, in that:

  • The ball is snapped to someone who isn't traditionally the quarterback
  • Five players must report as eligible receivers should the not-a-quarterback choose to throw the ball
  • The player's initial position isn't relevant, so long as all other positions properly report

A guard that is declared as a guard likely can't suddenly line up as the quarterback, and if they could suddenly shift the formation, it wouldn't be wise; all of a sudden one's very important quarterback is now on the line of scrimmage, staring down several men who are more than capable of running right through them.

  • A quarterback like Tim Tebow or Cam Newton probably wouldn't necessarily be too shy about it. But I think you're right about there being rules for lining up based upon your jersey number, hopefully someone can dig into that more. Additionally I believe players must report as eligible receivers even if they are not running a pass play, as there are rules about having uncovered linemen on the line of scrimmage making a formation illegal, at least at some levels. And let's go one up on the wildcat, and go to the A-11, which should cover much of this craziness 8-) Nov 15 '16 at 8:05
  • This answer is wrong - sorry.
    – Coach-D
    Nov 15 '16 at 19:48
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    @Coach-D: How so? I never said that the guard was on the line, I merely stated that the guard was coming in as a quarterback or someone that would normally receive the snap. Do you have any sources to definitively prove that this is not legal?
    – Makoto
    Nov 15 '16 at 19:49
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    @Makoto - Anyone can line up at quarterback - that is not the question. He asked if a guard can take a snap - the person who lined up as the guard, not Fred who believes he is a guard in his heart but is asked to play quarterback. You are turning a valid question into something silly.
    – Coach-D
    Nov 15 '16 at 21:53
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    I think you two are taking different interpretation of the question here - crucially, whether we're talking about "someone who normally plays guard" or "someone who lined up on the offensive line". Despite the assertion, it's not obvious to me which interpretation the OP means, particularly given that there is a reasonable interpretation at least at the NFL level that any offensive player wearing numbers 50-79 is an offensive lineman, even if they line up somewhere else.
    – Philip Kendall
    Nov 15 '16 at 22:01

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