Derry Area's Schmitt learning what it takes to make it at Maryland
After graduating from Derry Area High School in 2000 as one of the state's most ballyhooed lineman, things were going pretty well for Kyle Schmitt.
As a two-way starter for three years, Schmitt was one of the state's most highly-rated lineman, and with good reason. He was a two-time All-Greater Allegheny Conference offensive tackle and was chosen as a preseason All-American by Street & Smith's . He topped off his high school career by being tabbed to represent Pennsylvania in the prestigious Big 33 All-Star game.
When recruiters came calling, Schmitt entertained offers from several schools, including West Virginia University and the University of Pittsburgh, before settling on the University of Maryland.
In the three seasons that Schmitt has spent with the Terrapins, he's had to learn to deal with the ups and downs that come with competing for playing time and adjusting to big-time college football.
“Without a doubt, I've learned how to deal with adversity,” the redshirt sophomore explained. “You either deal with it, or you won't make it.”
After being redshirted his first season on campus, Schmitt last year found himself listed as a backup at both guard positions, as well as center. He still managed to appear in all 11 regular season games, and started at guard in the Orange Bowl.
“That season taught me to become more versatile as a player,” he said.
Schmitt hoped to enter this season as the team's starting center, and seemed set to do that following the graduation of four-year starting center Melvin Fowler, who now plays with the Cleveland Browns. Indeed, Schmitt was named the starter during preseason camp, and was working with the first team during an intrasquad scrimmage only a week before Maryland's opener against Notre Dame.
Suddenly, though, the coaching staff made changes, sending Schmitt to the sidelines.
“They said they wanted to get the best five linemen in the game, so I was the odd man out," Schmitt said. "I was really upset at first, but I'm trying to make the most of it, and just learn from it. You are always one play away from being back in the action.”
Schmitt has still appeared in all of Maryland's games this season, recording his first career start at center against Eastern Michigan.
Schmitt's parents, visible at most games, home and away, in their red Maryland jerseys and fully decorated van, have helped ease his frustration, he said.
“My entire family has been very supportive. They keep telling me (not starting) is not the end of the world,” he said.
Matt Schmitt, a senior offensive lineman at Penn State University and cousin, has also helped keep his spirits up.
“Matt has been through similar situations at Penn State, so he has been a great help through this all,” Schmitt said.
Schmitt's ups and downs have not caused him to lose any of his passion for the game. That said, he finds himself increasingly looking to the future beyond football.
“It's still a dream to play professionally, but I'm starting to look more into the coaching part of the game," Schmitt said. "I would really like to be a high school history teacher and coach when my playing days are over.”
Schmitt is an education major and has been a Maryland Scholar-Athlete in each of his first two seasons on campus.