Former Eastern Tech standout Ryan Schlothauer had several scholarship offers from Division I-AA schools but chose to go to Maryland as a preferred walk-on. He went from the scout team his first year to seeing the field this season and talks about his experiences with the Terps.
VSN: What was it like walking-on to the team? You were recruited by other D-1 programs, why did you chose to pursue Maryland?
Walking onto the University of Maryland football team was a drastic change for me. I had went from what I thought to be the absolute top (playing in the Maryland 2A State championship game and receiving First Team All-State honors) to the absolute bottom. As a preferred walk-on, I was recruited to play for the Terps but not as a scholarship player. However, as a walk-on, I did not get invited to camp my freshman year, putting me way behind in the learning curve. I served as a scout team tight end the entire year as I redshirted. I embraced this roll on the team and took it seriously and actually received scout team player of the week for the week leading up to the Virginia Tech game.
I was also being recruited by Towson where I would have had a full scholearship. In addition to Towson, the Ivy league teams had strong interest in me because of my performance on the field as well as in the classroom, graduating high school with 17 AP credits. I received a hand-written letter from Harvard, showing their interest, a visit to Princeton to meet the coaches and watch a game, and I met several times with a coach from Dartmouth. I most likely would have had to gone to prep school for a year prior to attending any of these Ivy league schools.
VSN: What is the process like trying to walk-on to a Division-I team? What types of things did you have to go through?
Because I was a recruited/preferred walk-on, I did not have to go to any tryouts, rather I came in and had a locker with my name on it. Of course this locker had the number “124” written on it rather than being the same as my jersey number. I was not able to dress for the first game of the season because I had not been invited to go to camp and therefore had not even practiced with the team until after the first game of the season.
VSN: What do you think was the key to Maryland’s turnaround from last year’s 2-10 team to this season’s 9-4 squad?
I feel that it takes time to learn the system and the playbook and in 2009, our team was very young. College football is nothing like high school and the time commitment and tempo of everything on-and- off the field is something that players need to have time to adjust to. In 2009, as a team our focus was their, but we were young and inexperienced. All but two of our losses were games that we could have won up until the last minutes of the game. I feel that a big part of our 2-10 season was truthfully just bad luck. As a result of the 2-10 season, everyone was dedicated to getting better so that in 2010, luck could not play any sort of role in the outcome of games. Coaches spent incredible amounts of time game planning, players put in extra time to watch film, and even the medical staff worked more diligently in order to get injured players back on the field quicker. It wasn’t a complete turn around within the program, it was just a collective effort to put in a little more time in the offseason and in preparation for the next game.
VSN: In the first game of the season, you got to play at M&T Bank Stadium against Navy. The last time you were there, you were playing for the Class 2A State title at Eastern Tech, did it bring back any memories?
It absolutely brought back memories of the 2A State championship game against River Hill back in 2008. As the bus pulled down to drop us off underneath the stadium, it was awkward looking around and seeing all different guys around me. I had pulled my hamstring just two weeks prior to this game so I was only able to play on field goals and extra points since they did not require me to run at all. That was depressing because I had a chance to start that game due to injuries of other tight ends. I must say, even though I didn’t play as much as I had in the State championship game, it was a much better feeling walking off of the field with a win. It was also nice to use the actual locker room of the Ravens rather than the room that we were stuck in for the State championship game.
VSN: I know this was over a year ago, but on the 2009 season of Maryland’s football show Terrapin’s Rising, you made a diving catch that was featured on the program. Can you talk a little about ‘the catch’ and being on television?
I still have people come up to me and mention the cat ch that I had during spring ball in 2009. It was a catch that I certainly will never live down. The play was one that I had never ran before and I only knew what the strong side tight end was supposed to do. Of course the other tight end only knew that position as well and went and lined up their, leaving me confused as you could see on TV. But after making that catch, that soon became my favorite play to run. That play got me time and exposure on TV. However, I did not know that I was going to be interviewed to appear on Terrapins Rising; therefore, I had dreadlocks during the interview which appeared on TV. I had went to get my hair dreaded for my brothers wedding because I told him I would have dreadlocks for his wedding and I kept my word although his wife did not like it so much. She said it kept her from crying during the ceremony because she could look at me and get mad instead of emotional. I eventually cut the dreadlocks out so that I could go swimming over the summer without having to keep my hair dry.
VSN: What were the emotions like around the team leading up to and after Ralph Friedgen’s last game?
People were confused about the whole situation. Players were left out of the loop and we did not find out about the firing until it came out in the newspaper. The team really stuck together however. I think that much of the reason is because of how the coaches still stuck together and stayed focused on winning the [Military] Bowl game even though they could have easily been distracted by the fact that they might not have a job after the game was over. For that, I give the coaches all the credit for helping the team to maintain their focus on beating ECU.
VSN: What was your favorite game or moment of the 2010 season? Why?
The Bowl game is always an extremely fun experience. This was teh second bowl game I went to, first being the Humanitarian Bowl in 2008. The bowl gifts are always a really nice surprise. This year we received a Sony dash, iPod docking station, bowl gear, and a selection from a gift suit. In addition, we were able to have a great time in DC leading up to the bowl game as we did things like going to the Capitals vs Penguins game, Wizards vs Bulls game, tour the Capital and White House, and my favorite was our dinner at Fogo De Chao all you can eat steakhouse. The game itself was fun as well. I played many plays on special teams and also was able to play some tight end in the fourth quarter, which made it a very memorable game for me.
VSN: Any pregame rituals or superstitions?
I always spend the bus ride to the stadium praying and listening to religious music up until I am able to see the stadium because the reason I have made it this far is because of God and this time is dedicated towards giving thanks and asking for strength and health for the game.
VSN: What is your best football memory?
To this day, my best football memory is my entire senior season in high school
leading up to and including the State Championship game. I truly miss each and every coach and player on that team and am really looking forward to our class reunions to hopefully see everyone again. I’m sure at the end of my college career, I am going to feel the same way about these teammates and will have memories of playing with them as well.
VSN: What is something that most people probably don’t know about you?
I earned a 4.0 last semester and currently have a 3.6 cumulative GPA while majoring in Business Operations Management at the prestigious Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.