Kevin McDermott had no idea the Vikings already had determined that he was their long snapper for the 2015 season until his phone rang Sunday.
The caller ID flashed a number with a 512 area code. It was Cullen Loeffler.
The veteran incumbent, who was the longest-tenured Vikings player, was calling his replacement to congratulate him on winning the job and wish him the best.
"He's a really, really special guy," McDermott said Monday. "He's been here for so long and he's done a lot for this organization, so it means a lot to have him call me and congratulate me. It speaks a lot about what kind of guy he is."
On Sunday, the day after Blair Walsh missed a trio of field goals and an extra-point attempt in a preseason victory over the Oakland Raiders, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer called Loeffler into his office to break the bad news.
Loeffler had been the team's long snapper since 2004, when he signed as a rookie free agent out of Texas. And he had snapped for Priefer since 2011, with the Vikings special teams unit typically one of the league's best over that span.
"You're always surprised when you get called into the office and they're telling you that you are going to get released," Loeffler said in a phone interview. "But that's the nature of the game and if you play the game long enough and you're as fortunate as I have been, that call is going to come at some point in your career."
This was the first time since 2005 that the Vikings had brought in camp competition for Loeffler, who had a down year in 2014. The lowest point was the snap he bounced to Jeff Locke that directly contributed to a blocked punt and a winning safety in a Week 16 loss to the Dolphins.
McDermott spent his rookie season in 2013 with the 49ers. In his first playoff game, he snapped in below-zero temperatures at Lambeau Field. He spent the second half the 2014 season with the playoff-bound Ravens before an elbow injury ended his season.
"I feel like [those experiences] prepared me for this upcoming season and anything that can happen," he said.
The Vikings had Loeffler and McDermott split up the practice reps in training camp, and they alternated snaps in their first three preseason games, including Saturday.
In that game, Loeffler snapped for two of Walsh's missed field goals, and his snap was high on Walsh's miss from 38 yards. McDermott was the long snapper for the kicker's missed extra point and his failed 49-yard attempt late in the fourth quarter.
Coach Mike Zimmer was adamant in saying that "releasing Cullen Loeffler had nothing to do with what happened the other night." McDermott's snaps were consistently faster and more accurate throughout camp, and that's why he won the job, the coach said.
Zimmer did concede, though, that the Vikings chose a long snapper now to give Walsh, McDermott and holder Locke — McDermott's teammate at UCLA — a chance to get their timing down.
Walsh didn't use the game of musical chairs at long snapper as an excuse for his struggles against the Raiders. Hechalked it up to technical flaw on his part and vowed to correct it.
"I wasn't swinging straight down where I wanted to aim," said Walsh, the league's least-accurate field-goal kicker in 2014.
Walsh was at Winter Park when Loeffler was informed of his release Sunday.
"Cullen's a great snapper and an even better human being," Walsh said. "He's a guy that helped me transition into the league. You're always in debt to a guy like that. I know we'll remain great friends, and I still think he can play in the NFL."
Loeffler isn't sure what his next move is, though. Still processing his release, he said Monday he will see if any opportunities present themselves after the preseason or during the regular season, but retirement could be an option.
The 34-year-old doesn't harbor any ill will toward the Vikings for releasing him.
"This organization has done a lot for me," Loeffler said. "The thing that I'll remember the most are the people within the organization that I worked so closely with in the past 11 and a half years. From top to bottom, it's just been a great experience — many laughs and many fond memories."
And now that McDermott has out-snapped Loeffler to secure a full-time gig with the Vikings, the 25-year-old hopes he can make many fond memories here, too.
"I think I showed that I have the talent to play in the NFL," he said. "It was up to them to make that decision. Cullen and I did our best, and I wish nothing but the best for him."