Behind the Facemask: Ryan Schraeder

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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.

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