By Chad Courrier firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mankato Free Press
---- — MANKATO — Ryan Schlichte has traveled thousands of miles to attend football camps this summer, and he's worked out alongside and against some of the best quarterbacks in the country.
And he's learned this: "I think I can compete against anybody."
High-school football practice for Mankato West, and most other schools, begins Aug. 12, but Schlichte and many of his teammates have been working out all summer. For Schlichte, who is entering his junior season, he's been traveling a lot, working on his skills and catching the eyes of college scouts across the Midwest.
He attended camps at Iowa, Iowa State, Wisconsin, Purdue and Minnesota and was invited to an elite camp at Dallas for potential recruits for 2015, 2016 and 2017.
"I sent them some film, and they liked me enough to invite me to their camp," Schlichte said.
Last season, his first as a varsity starter, Schlichte gained prominence by completing 162 of 251 passes for 2,278 yards and 25 touchdowns. He also rushed for five touchdowns, helping the Scarlets reach the state tournament.
"I felt like I had a good year, and the team had a great year," Schlichte said. "I didn't really think things were going to take off like they did (this summer)."
West coach Mark Esch has made videos of several players for college programs in his seven seasons here, but he's never been asked for tape on a sophomore, including Philip Nelson, who was highly recruited by top Midwest colleges and ended up at Minnesota.
"Ryan is pretty sound mechanically," Esch said. "What he's picked up from these camps is the competitive edge from being around top athletes. He's seeing the game a lot better, and he's more mature. He has a year of experience under his belt, which is huge."
Schlichte said that he got some good pointers from the college coaches. He knows he needs to improve his footwork. Since West operates from the shotgun formation, he doesn't use as many three-, five- or seven-step drops as the colleges with pro-style offenses.
He was timed at 4.8 seconds in the 40-yard dash, which he hopes to bring down to around 4.6. All high-school kids are expected to get stronger, though his arm strength is already pretty good.
A normal summer for Schlichte would have been a full season of baseball and a couple months of summer-league basketball, but his travels took away about a quarter of the baseball schedule and all but two basketball games.
"I'm still a three-sport guy," he said. "I want to keep competing is as many sports as I can. The (college) coaches like that because you're always competing year-round."
This season, Schlichte has high hopes for the Scarlets, and if he has another good season, major college programs will start making scholarship offers. He has no ideal place where he'd like to play college football, but he thinks he'll know the opportunity when it happens.
"When the right school comes around, I figure I'll make a decision," Schlichte said. "I don't want to wait 'til signing day or anything. I'll try to find the school that fits for me."