Football Trick Plays – Hidden Player

Hidden players are becoming a rarity in football. As the different leagues attempt to promote better sportsmanship, referees are cracking down on fun trick plays. The “not our fault the other team is stupid and fell for this” defense sadly does not work as well any more so some of these plays are downright illegal, but still they’re fun to watch. Let’s take a look at the three types of “hidden player” trick plays.

1. Hiding On The Field Itself

Earlier in November, Kansas kick returner LaQuvionte Gonzalez had a chameleon moment, using the color of his jersey and the color of the endzone to become invisible on a kickoff. He laid in hiding until the opportune time, hauled in a lateral on the kickoff and scampered for a 29-yard gain. Not too shabby, and a good use of camo. This is not the first time a team has tried to hide a player, continue through the post for some more ingenious hidden player tactics.

Similar to Kansas, Riley Cooper tried hiding on the Saints “S” to trick the Saints on a kickoff in 2012. It worked to great effect, but was ruled an illegal forward pass and the touchdown was called back.


The Jets also tried this a few years ago but it never had time to develop into anything.

2. Gus Malzahn’s “Woody” or “The Hidden Human Trick”

Auburn pulled a Trojan horse against Texas A&M in 2015 and hid wideout Ryan Davis behind the offensive line. Davis stands at just 5’9″ and was hiding behind a 6’6″, 300-pound Braden Smith. The play resulted in a much needed 28-yard gain on first and forever. Here’s the link to why Malzahn calls it “Woody”

Texas Tech pretty much copied this a couple of weeks later to beat Texas for the first time in seven years. (via @sbnation)
texas a and m runs a trick play by hiding their wide receiver.

And here is South Dakota State in 2016 with Brady Mengarelli. The cool thing about this one is they first go into an amoebous blob and then settle in this position.

Same play, different angle

3. The “Hey Tony”

In high school we used to run this play where our coaches would all start screaming at our quarterback (Tony) and he’d hike the ball and start leisurely walking over toward them. The linemen would stand up and looked confused then kind of just wander around. Meanwhile, Tony would trot over toward the sidelines with the ball then sprint up the field for a gain. When it worked it was beautiful. Here are two similar plays.

Notre Dame with the “hide out” field goal attempt, called back for using “substitution to deceive,” or for the full explanation from Page 98 of the NCAA Rulebook – Unfair Tactics – ARTICLE 2b. No simulated replacements or substitutions may be used to confuse opponents. No tactic associated with substitutes or the substitution process may be used to confuse opponents (Rule 3-5-2-e) (A.R. 9-2-2-I-V).

The Browns used a similar tactic with n00b QB Johnny Manziel, yelling at him from the sideline while he remained on the field. Manziel scrambled for a huge gain, but it was an illegal play explained by Mike Pereira, the Fox rules analyst. Pereira said the play itself was “an illegal hideout play” and should have been called for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Overall that seems to be it for hiding players. There are many tiny variations but they all come back to laying down on the field, hiding behind a lineman or pretending to be going off the field. The ingenuity of coaches knows no bounds. If I’ve missed any big ones, be sure to let me know in the comments.

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