Behind the Facemask: Ryan Schraeder

Posted Dec 27, 2013

Tackle Ryan Schraeder fills you in on his hobbies, his unusual growth spurt and his even more out of the ordinary path to the NFL in this week's Behind the Facemask

Frank Kleha: You are now 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds, but I heard that you were actually 5-9 in high school before a big growth spurt. Is that true?

Ryan Schraeder: I was just a late bloomer and actually was 5-7 up until my junior year of high school. Then, I hit a huge growth spurt all at once.

FK: Where did you end up?

RS: I graduated about 6-4 and 175 or 180 pounds. It was almost like being a new person. Teachers and students didn’t really recognize me. You grow that fast and they don’t know who you are. So it was pretty crazy. My dad had a similar growth spurt. He didn’t grow as much as I did (where he got to be 6-4), but he knew it was coming. I had no clue, though. I was tall and skinny and as the years progressed I kept putting on weight naturally, I filled out naturally. I love working out, too, so obviously there is going to be weight put on because of that.  

FK: So you didn’t play high school football either?

RS: I played baseball and basketball and then got burned out on those so by my sophomore year and I was done playing sports. I played football growing up but nothing in high school.

FK: I understand after high school you had an interesting job. What was it?  

RS: I worked full-time at a family friend’s meat packaging place (Indian Hills Meat & Poultry) and delivered to restaurants around town. I was the delivery driver taking steaks around (in Wichita, Kansas) and started taking classes at Butler Community College my fall semester after high school. But taking a full load of classes and working full-time wasn’t working out so I cut down on my classes and went to school part-time and worked full-time.

FK: How did you start playing football again?

RS: I went to school and worked for a year-and-a-half and then took the spring semester off at Butler and decided I was going to just work as much as I could and save up and the very next fall I was going to go to Kansas State. While I was at Kansas State that was what sparked the whole football thing. I was 6-7 and about 260 pounds and was playing pick-up basketball and jumping out of the gym. The tight ends coach saw me playing and said, ‘Hey, we have to try to get you out for the team.’ I was happy just being a student. I talked to them at the football offices, but because of the way I started out at Butler — I didn’t take ever take my ACTs — they said I couldn’t be on the team due to the strict Big 12 rules. I told my dad about it and he said ‘let’s go for this’ because he coached me growing up and he knew what I could do. So I moved back home and emailed the coach at Butler and he had me come out for the team. They ended up redshirting me and then I started at left tackle the next year.

FK: So how did you end up at Valdosta State?

RS: I wanted to get away and had some connections at Valdosta State. I went down there and loved it and spent two years there.

FK: Did you get a chance to meet one of VSU’s best players and a member of the Falcons Ring of Honor, Jessie Tuggle?

RS: Yes, I have. He’s a great guy. The weight room down there is named after him and Jessie is a huge part of the campus still. His daughter goes there so you see him all the time.

FK: Favorite athlete growing up?

RS: Barry Sanders. He’s from my hometown in Wichita and I followed him growing up. I played running back up until high school, too.  

FK: When did you first start playing offensive line then?

RS: I never played offensive line growing up. I didn’t start playing there until at Butler. I started off as a tight end (at Butler) and they were going to need a left tackle going into the next fall and I caught on quick and they liked what I could do.

FK: What other sports were your favorites to play as a kid?

RS: Baseball. I was a pitcher and shortstop. I had a really good arm growing up. Playing baseball we traveled every summer and we were in the World Series.

FK: You played in the Little League World Series?

RS: I was on a very competitive team and we played in the NBC (National Baseball Congress) World Series pretty much every year after I started (for about five straight years).  I played pitcher and I’m not going to lie, I had a good arm. I threw a lot of no-hitters. I wouldn’t know exactly how many, but my dad would know. He’s proud of that.

FK: Hollywood crush growing up?

RS: Jessica Simpson.

FK: What’s the strangest thing we’d find in your suitcase when we travel?

RS: A foam roller. It’s used for loosening up your muscles. You have to get loosened up after a long flight.

FK: What do you like to do in your spare time away from football?

RS: I love to golf, play video games, travel and fish.

FK: What kind of fishing do you like to do the most and what’s your biggest catch?

RS: I like deep sea fishing, but I do it all. I caught a 10-foot bull shark in Destin, Florida last summer. I also caught a big King fish on the same trip right before training camp.  It took me and my girlfriend’s dad an hour to reel in that bull shark. I have also fished for Tarpon in Marathon Key, Florida.

FK: Since you like to golf, what would be your ultimate foursome?

RS: I would say Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Barry Sanders.

FK: What’s your favorite indulgence?

RS: I love Mexican food. My girlfriend and I go out to eat probably twice a week.  

FK: What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

RS: You wouldn’t think so from a big guy that plays football, but I’m pretty quiet and shy.

Please Note

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on represent those of the individual authors. Unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Atlanta Falcons’ organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. The writers’ views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Falcons officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.