Owen Schmitt #44 FB
Height: 6-2 Weight: 250 Age: 28
Born: 2/13/1985 Gilman , WI
College: West Virginia
Experience: 5th season
High School: Fairfax HS [VA]; Paul VI HS [Fairfax, VA]
Selected By: Seattle Seahawks
Pick (Overall): 28 (163)
Even though he was sometimes a forgotten man in a loaded backfield, few could argue that Schmitt was perhaps the team's most important player throughout his three seasons in the program. His devastating blocks and ability to play both fullback and tight end brought back memories of football's glory years for professional scouts watching him play. Most agree he is a throwback to an era where the fullback knew his role -- deliver devastating blocks.
Schmitt is a powerhouse with a running style that dares defenders to try and stop him. Through 353 career rushing attempts, he has been tackled for a loss just four times. Whether it is getting the tough yardage near the goal line, clearing a rush lane or catching the ball out of the backfield, Schmitt is more than up to any task the coaches ask from him. Evident of that was a new wrinkle that he added to his game as a senior -- handling "pooch" punting duties.
At Fairfax High School, Schmitt earned unanimous All-Conference and Liberty District Most Valuable Player accolades. The tough tailback led the conference in rushing and also served as team captain. He excelled in baseball, picking up All-District and All-Region recognition in that sport.
Schmitt had a rough childhood. He and his mother, Serena Drangle, constantly moved and, during one stretch, the pair was forced to sleep in their car. This caused Schmitt's academics to suffer and he failed to qualify for a spot at the University of Maryland after graduating from high school. He enrolled at Wisconsin-River Falls in 2003, where he became an immediate fan favorite.
That season, Schmitt earned All-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honors, as he ranked third in the league and led the team with 193 carries for 1,063 yards (5.5-yard average) and five touchdowns in nine starting assignments. He also caught two passes for 10 yards, amassing 1,073 all-purpose yards.
Schmitt left UW-River Falls after that season, joining the West Virginia program as a walk-on. Under NCAA transfer rules, he was forced to sit out the 2004 season. In 2005, he started six games at fullback, while also lining up at the tailback and tight end positions. An Iron Mountaineer Award winner for his performances in the weight room, the versatile athlete collected 380 yards on 48 attempts (7.9-yard average) with two touchdowns, as the opposition failed to tackle him for a loss on any play. He also caught eight passes for 76 yards (9.5-yard average) and returned a kickoff 20 yards.
As a junior, he started four of the 13 contests in which he played, seeing action mostly at fullback, but he also lined up at tight end and tailback. He earned All-American second-team honors from The NFL Draft Report and Scout.com, and was the recipient of the Whitey Gwynne Award, given by the WVU coaches to the team's unsung hero. He added NSCA Strength All-American honors, bulking up to 260 pounds from 245 during the offseason.
Schmitt ran for 351 yards and seven touchdowns on 65 carries (5.4-yard average) and was stopped for a loss on only one carry. He caught 12 passes for 91 yards (7.6 avg) with a score, recorded one solo tackle and returned a kickoff 14 yards. He also collected 87 knockdowns, including 16 touchdown-resulting blocks.
In 2007, Schmitt was an All-American first-team pick by The NFL Draft Report and selected by the coaching staff for the Ira E. Rodgers Award. He received All-Big East Conference second-team honors from Rivals.com, as he continued to dominate as a blocker, coming up with 106 knockdowns and 17 touchdown-resulting blocks.
Schmitt started 11 of 13 games at fullback, rushing 47 times for 272 yards (5.8-yard average) and four touchdowns while getting tackled just once behind the line of scrimmage. He finished fourth on the team with 12 receptions for 121 yards (10.1-yard average) and a score while also having two of three punts downed inside the 20-yard line, finishing with a 20.3-yard average and one solo tackle.
With the success of the West Virginia running game, thanks to Schmitt's blocking -- he broke 10 facemasks over the last three years -- the national media turned him into a favorite. Bruce Feldman, a senior writer at ESPN the Magazine stated, "Truth is, no one better epitomizes the rugged image of this blue-collar program that literally pounded its way to respect." Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com chimed in, "Fullback is an anachronism in the modern offense. Guys like Schmitt may spearhead a comeback."
Mike Wise of the Washington Post wrote, "He rumbles like a beer truck with a broken parking brake." Craig James of the ESPN Network remarked, "He's got a forehead made of steel." Color commentator Gary Danielson said: "This guy is a folk hero in West Virginia. He does it with pure power."
Former head coach Rich Rodriguez also said, "Part of what he did in that (Louisville) game, and what we try to embody in our program, is playing tough and physical all the way from the first play to the last play. That is Owen Schmitt."
In 38 games at West Virginia, Schmitt earned a total of 21 starts, including four at tight end. He carried 160 times for 1,003 yards (6.3-yard average) and 13 touchdowns, as he was tackled for a loss just twice. He caught 32 passes for 288 yards (9.0-yard avg) and two scores, adding 34 yards on two kickoff returns. He punted three times for 61 yards (20.3 avg) with two kicks downed inside the 20-yard line and recorded two solo tackles.