April 9, 2012

Freshman Profile: J. Schroeder is more than a punter

While the placekicking job vacated by John Potter remains somewhat up in the air for Western Michigan heading into 2012, the punting duties have been nailed down by early enrollee J. Schroeder. Schroeder is also competing to take over kickoffs, and has some things in common with four year standout Potter coming out of high school.

Schroeder played inside linebacker in his freshman year at St. Charles High School, and then in his senior year got the opportunity to play a new position and excelled.

"My senior year they let me play wide receiver, and I actually ended up leading the team with about thirty catches," Schroeder told BroncoBlitz after spring practice last week.

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind for Bronco fans after hearing about a kicker with athleticism is the exploits of John Potter, who shattered a WMU school record with 36 tackles in his career. Schroeder was quick to downplay comparisons to the former fan favorite, but acknowledged he may not be the average kicker.

"If I've got to make the tackle, I'll make the tackle, let's put it that way," Schroeder said.

Schroeder has an interesting back story that led him to WMU, as he actually was in line to take a preferred walk-on slot under embattled former coach Jim Tressel at Ohio State before the illegal benefits scandal surfaced and Tressel's offer to Schroeder fell through just a couple of days after it was accepted.

After all of this, Schroeder was left looking for a spot and WMU, impressed with his punting tape, was the only school to offer a scholarship. Schroeder did not know a lot about the school at the time, and didn't see any of the facilities or campus until the final home game against Akron last year, after already committing. Since arriving at WMU, though, he has been pleasantly surprised and speaks glowingly of the campus and program.

"I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I got up here, but I love every bit of it," Schroeder said. "I love absolutely everything about it. It's a great place, just a small Midwestern town, not too small, but it's nothing like Columbus so it's got that small town feel to me. Campus-wise, everybody's nice, it's just a great place to be."

Schroeder has not let down the coaching staff, who extended their offer after seeing him on tape but had not watched him in person. Hangtime is a big positive for the 6-foot-2, 195 pounder, and he is developing consistency in spring practice. Schroeder says he is already comfortable at Western Michigan.

"I'm adjusting well. I'm just trying right now to get used to the speed of the game, take my time but not be slow with everything," Schroeder said.

While Schroeder would like to also handle kickoffs and placekicking and has worked on field goals with the second unit, the coaching staff would prefer to specialize further in order to avoid fatigue and stress.

As for his relationship with the rest of the special teams, Schroeder said there is solid camaraderie within the unit despite the fierce competition for the various jobs.

"There's no hostility, no hard feelings with anything, everybody's just trying to do their best," Schroeder said.

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