Thomas Jefferson grad Schmidt caps Edinboro career, will play in Dream Bowl
It was Josh Schmidt’s dream to play football at the same college where his father played.
A 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior on the Edinboro football team, Schmidt, a Thomas Jefferson graduate, played in 44 consecutive games as a long snapping specialist, and was honored as the Fighting Scots’ special teams player of the year for 2018.
And not only did he achieve his dream, he will cap his college career by long snapping in Dream Bowl VII.
Schmidt and two Edinboro teammates, defensive tackle Derek Dorr and cornerback Zuril Hendrick were selected to play Jan. 21 in the Dream Bowl all-star game in Salem, Va.
Schmidt will be one of two long snappers at the event.
“I was invited to the Pro Dip International Scout Bowl, as well, but I saw the Dream Bowl as being a much better opportunity,” Schmidt said. “Plus, two of my roommates and close friends are playing in this game.”
At Edinboro, a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference school, Schmidt claimed the long snapping job almost immediately after arriving on campus for summer camp.
He served as the Fighting Scots’ long snapper on punts, field goals and extra points for four years. During his sophomore season, Schmidt was in on two tackles and recovered a fumble against Clarion.
And according to Edinboro stats, Schmidt had 427 career snaps and no blocked punts.
“I didn’t expect much when I entered freshman camp. A lot of guys were bigger, faster and stronger than me, so I figured I’d maybe get a chance to play when I was an upperclassman,” Schmidt said. “That changed on the second day when the starter quit and I found myself to be the only remaining long snapper. From there, I never looked back.
“I played every game in my college career, and I have to thank my parents for being with me every step of the way. They almost never missed a home game, and win or lose they were always supportive.”
Edinboro posted a 6-5 record in 2018 after starting out 3-0 and 4-1.
“I believe our team really underachieved this season,” Schmidt said. “We had 18 seniors, most of them starters, and finished with a 6-5 record. With TJ always being so dominant, it was a big transition going from there to Edinboro. We lost one game my senior year at TJ, and then I go up to Edinboro and we don’t win a game that year. The next year, we finished 9-2.
“That just shows how PSAC football is way different than high school. You could play the best team in the conference, but it’s all about who shows up to play that day.”
One of the featured activities at the Dream Bowl will be a pro combine for the players.
“They have a combine (scheduled) the first day I get there,” Schmidt said, “with mostly CFL scouts and a few NFL scouts. If the opportunity arose, I would definitely consider playing at the next level.
“However, besides the NFL, the other professional leagues have very low salaries for players. I couldn’t make a living off long snapping unless I made it (in the NFL).”
The 21-year-old Schmidt is a geology major and a scholar-athlete with a 3.75 GPA; his concentration is in energy resources management.
“I hope to go work down in Washington (Pa.) with the fracking companies,” Schmidt said.
His father, Don Schmidt, is Brashear’s head football coach. The elder Schmidt was a center and long snapper for the Fighting Scots in the late 1980s.
“I have been really proud of Josh playing in 44 consecutive games,” Schmidt, the dad, said. “He played the position quietly and with a lot of pride. He was just happy to do his job and be perfect every time. It’s not like a wide receiver who misses a catch or a linebacker who misses a tackle; the long snapper messing up could change the game with one mistake.”
Josh Schmidt was a tight end/long snapper at Thomas Jefferson. He graduated from TJ in 2015.
He practiced his technique rigorously, attending long snapping camps and focusing on honing the skill. He became the Jaguars’ starting snapper as a junior.
Schmidt was recruited by several colleges and chose Edinboro, an NCAA Division II school, mainly because he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“My dad was a long snapper in high school and college, and wanted to pass it on to me,” Schmidt, the son, said. “However, I didn’t get real serious about it until my sophomore year of high school. I played tight end too, but TJ had better players at that position. I realized I needed to find a way to get on the field, and that’s when I turned to snapping.”
During Josh’s varsity football career from 2012 to 2014, the Jaguars posted a 33-3 record, won three conference titles and advanced to the WPIAL semifinals three times.
“Josh was a good high school player and loved being a part of the great football tradition at TJ. He really matured and grew up in college,” said his father.
The younger Schmidt has been a long snapping specialist since his youth football days.
“I taught him to long snap back when he was 10 and told him the skill would help him get on the field more,” said Don Schmidt. “I told him to go out for any position, but that he would long snap. And he did, in youth, middle and high school.
“Josh worked hard, probably snapping 50 to 100 times each day in the summer. His snaps have good velocity and are hard enough I now wear gloves.”
The Dream Bowl is a showcase of some of the best FCS, Division II and Division III football players from across the country. Josh’s parents, Don and Tammy, are planning to attend the game.
“I’m extremely excited to be heading to Virginia to see Josh play in the Dream Bowl,” Don Schmidt said. “Josh was told by the game promoter that he was one of the best long snappers in D-2 and the PSAC, and that is why he was picked.
“If you ask Josh, he is just happy to play one more college game. I’m hoping that I can add a new young special teams coach with me at Brashear this fall.”
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.