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Unforgettable visit for Ryan Schommer sets stage for commitment
Ryan Schommer will never forget the time on the scoreboard clock at Memorial Stadium before Nebraska’s game against Ohio State: 50 minutes, 45 seconds until kickoff. He had just received the best news of his life: an offer to be a preferred walk-on for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, a dream come true for the Norfolk, Neb., native.
Leading up to 50:45 on Oct. 14, Schommer completed the first of what he hopes is many tunnel walks. That was the first of many dreams to come true that day.
“I’ve been to many Nebraska games before. It was a dream that became a reality, running through that tunnel,” Schommer told Land of 10 Monday night, a couple hours after he accepted the opportunity to walk on. “That experience alone just got me pumped. It was something I always dreamt about doing.”
— Ryan Schommer (@SchommerRyan) November 21, 2017
After mingling with the other recruits in town for the weekend, Schommer and his parents walked past defensive line coach John Parrella on the field.
“He stopped what he was doing and said hello right away,” Schommer said. “Shook my hand and gave me his number.”
Schommer was walking the sidelines with his parents when associate director of player personnel Todd McShane pulled Schommer and his father aside. He had good news and formally extended an offer. A few feet away, a white helmet with a red ‘N’ painted on the side rested on the turf.
“I told him ‘I kinda want to put that helmet on right now and get out on the field,’ ” Schommer recalled.
McShane then informed Schommer that defensive coordinator Bob Diaco wished to personally congratulate him on the offer, but Diaco was on the other side of the field during warmups, busy with preparations.
“He wanted to make sure once the 50-minute mark hit it was all business, not thinking about anything else other than the game,” Schommer said. “At 50 minutes and 45 seconds, [Diaco] came over. I had 45 seconds to talk with him. He met me and my family, got a picture with him. It was a great experience. He talked about basically me being a Nebraska kid, he feels like I could help develop that culture and just be one of those hard workers from Nebraska for the team.
“That experience was one that I’ll remember forever, regardless of the score.”
‘It’s always been one of those lifelong dreams’
In the wake of the special visit, Schommer knew he’d have to really weigh his options. Other offers floated around, but this was Nebraska, after all.
“Me and my dad, we’ve been talking about it for quite some time,” Schommer said. “Really, this whole process, this whole journey — it’s not just me and my dad — but it just seemed like me and him when we’re going through it all. He knew once I told him how I felt. He was on board right away with it.”
By the weekend, his mind was pretty much made up and he told his mom after his Norfolk Senior team’s football banquet.
“She was glowing,” Schommer said.
The final family member to get the news was his sister, who he told right before he informed the rest of the world via Twitter on Monday night. Schommer then spoke with McShane and his dad talked with program staffers Teri Riggins and Andy Vaughn.
Welcome home ✊🏼#GBR 🔴🌽⚪️
— Todd McShane (@TheToddMcShane) November 21, 2017
Playing for Nebraska was simply a chance he could not pass up.
“I grew up in Nebraska. It’s always been one of those lifelong dreams of mine. That statewide and national support that they have is definitely a factor, as well as I truly believe I can be a difference maker for the program,” Schommer said. “It was a tough decision, but it took a lot of prayer. I truly believe Nebraska is where God led me to go. I have no doubt in my mind and I’m just ready to get to work.”
Schommer picked up some Division II offers, with schools such as the University of Sioux Falls, Minnesota-Moorhead, Augustana, Concordia University-St. Paul, Northwest Missouri State and Wayne State all vying for him.
“There were still several others I was still talking with and building that relationship with,” said Schommer, adding he felt like Minnesota-Mankato was on the verge of offering him.
After his memorable visit for the Ohio State game, Schommer returned for the Northwestern game and will be on hand for the Iowa game this Friday.
“This has been a dream of mine for many years and I’m just ready to get to work,” Schommer said. “I’m ready to show what a Nebraska-bred player and student, first, and athlete is all about. The work ethic, I truly believe, is going to show.”
Winding road eventually leads to Lincoln
For the longest time, Ryan Schommer believed he would be playing basketball — not Division I college football.
“In all honesty, about a year ago I had no idea that football was going to be my ticket into college,” Schommer said. “I was being recruited for basketball by Division II schools.”
He played with the Nebraska Bison AAU team and attended the camp circuit for hoops. He credits an open mind and his faith for helping him realize football presented another option for him to participate in college athletics.
“It’s crazy how God just changes what you think is the path that you’ll go down,” he said.
Schommer is beginning basketball season. He plays center and his team is coming off a state title, but it will have to overcome losing several upperclassmen to graduation to get back to that level, he said.
Schommer was forced to hurdle a few obstacles before becoming a viable recruit. For one, he hadn’t played defensive end until his junior season. He dedicated a bunch of time last offseason to refining his technique and he hit the recruiting camp circuit. When he applied what he learned throughout his senior season, it clearly paid off.
“There was some adversity, I guess you could say, that I went through with football. I was kind of shaken, because I had an injury and I wasn’t really seeing the field as much as I thought or thought I deserved,” Schommer said. “I turned to my faith and that made me settle and gave me a solid mind.”
At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, with an 84-inch wingspan, Schommer is already quite the specimen.
“I’ve got some height to me … I feel like I’m pretty quick off the edge,” Schommer said. “I feel like I’m just really explosive. I think my explosiveness and disrupting the line and getting through gaps is something I’ve definitely improved on.”
In nine games this season, Schommer recorded 61 total tackles (28 solo) with 9 tackles for loss, according to MaxPreps.com. He also had 2.5 sacks, 1 hurry and 1 fumble recovery.
Schommer mostly operated in high school as a defensive end with his hand on the ground. But he said the coaching staff recruited him with the intention of moving him to outside linebacker, primarily as a “rush” end. Nebraska has that option with Schommer thanks to his size and athleticism. He also contributed on special teams in high school and could certainly make an impact there with the Cornhuskers.
“I just went to work,” Schommer says of his growing love of football. “Just that experience of my faith growing, and that relationship growing, made me realize that football can have such an impact on my life.”
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