Fast-rising Wildcat Dalton Schoen has moved quickly up the receiver depth chart

Third-year mechanical engineering Kansas State student Dalton Schoen is a smart young man.

Dalton Schoen is a walk-on receiver from Overland Park with deceptive speed. At 6-2, 208 pounds, he might remind some long-time K-State fans of another big receiver from a decade ago. But he wouldn’t go there when asked to compare himself to Jordy Nelson, the former walk-on from Riley County.

“It’s impossible to compare myself to someone like that,” Schoen said. “Yeah, he was a walk-on, but he made such a name for himself here. He’s had a fantastic NFL career. But I think he’s definitely someone I’d like to emulate with my game.”

The Nelson comparison is not fair to Dalton Schoen, who is making his first significant contribution to the K-State program. The redshirt sophomore played one game on offense last season, in mop-up duty in a non-conference blow-out over Florida Atlantic. He didn’t have a catch last season. Schoen was not mentioned on the wide receiver depth chart this year.

But in K-State’s first two games—wins over Central Arkansas and Charlotte—Schoen caught five passes for 131 yards and a touchdown. The highlight was a 70-yard touchdown against Central Arkansas, when he got behind the secondary and quarterback Jesse Ertz found him in stride.

Ertz believes Dalton Schoen earned his chance.

“He progressed so much in fall camp,” Ertz said. “He came out of nowhere. It’s no surprise for us that he’s getting open and making catches. It’s awesome to have another guy we can put out there to make plays. That’s huge as far as not being predictable. No defense can key on any one player.”

While his QB is not surprised, Dalton Schoen said he is a bit surprised with how much he has contributed this season.

“I didn’t really expect to play a whole lot,” he said. “Going into the off-season and into camp, I was doing alright, making plays here and there, kind of working my way into the group of receivers. I knew there was a chance to get on the field and make some plays.

“Coming into the year, I worked to get into a position to play. I put a huge emphasis on special teams. I wanted to work to get a spot on those. Luckily I worked myself into position to play on three of those four units. That’s been great. Then I’ve been working and improving to get better at receiver, trying to work my way into the mix.”

One person not surprised by Schoen’s contribution is Bill Snyder.

“Nothing surprises me,” Snyder said. “I’m too old for that. (Dalton brings) a great deal of consistency—that’s what you say about slow guys, right? He’s not all that slow, but comparatively speaking with some of the other receivers we have, he doesn’t run with the same speed.

“He’s very perceptive. He understands how to process information. He reads defenses very well. He understands how to get himself open. And he is a little quicker than I might have alluded to.”

Dalton Schoen said Snyder is not too far off with his assessment.

“Coach Snyder is pretty dead-on with that analysis,” Schoen said. “I think my biggest strength is my size and strength. I try to do the fundamental things right, running good routes and finding ways to get open. I put myself in position to where the quarterback can give me a chance and I can go make the play. I’d like to think I have good hands.”

In the game against Charlotte, Schoen had four catches for 61 yards. He repeatedly got open between defenders. While it might not be Isaiah Harris- or Isaiah Zuber-type speed, Schoen describes himself as “faster than I am quick.”

“I think it’s a combination of a couple of things,” Schoen said of his ability to get open. “I think my routes are pretty good. I also think I do a pretty good job of identifying the coverages and knowing where the soft spots are going to be. Byron (Pringle) and Dominique (Heath, and the other guys) draw a lot of attention because of what they’ve done in the past and what they’re capable of doing. It draws a lot of extra attention from the defense.

“My 40 time is about a 4.6. My lifts are okay. I maxed 315 in the bench press this summer. I hang-cleaned 305. I think my best ‘stat’ came in the 300-yard shuttle test. I actually broke the receiver record at the end of the summer with a 42.25 average time. It’s a series of five 60-yard dashes back-to-back. You get 90 seconds to recover and then do it again. Your score is the average time between the two.”

Dalton Schoen played at Blue Valley Northwest where he was named The Kansas City Star Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year and was one of six national finalists for the Wendy’s High School Heisman award, as he earned all A’s through high school.

He was no slouch on the field either. He broke the Kansas high school record for receiving yards in a game with 380 on 12 catches with four touchdowns against Bishop Miege in 2014. He earned first-team all-state honors as he hauled in 42 receptions for 880 yards and eight touchdowns on the year.

He had scholarship opportunities at the Division II level, but he was focused on finding a school where he could major in mechanical engineering. He had some opportunities to go to Ivy League schools, but he grew up a K-State fan. When he was offered the chance to walk on at K-State, where his brother is a basketball walk-on, it was an easy decision.

“I grew up as a huge K-State fan,” he said. “My parents both went here. When it came time to choose a school, it was a long process. I was looking at a long list of schools to play football. Once I got the offer to walk on at K-State I knew I wanted to do that, because I’ve been a huge K-State fan my whole life. I always wanted to come here and play football. It was perfect.

His goal and the Kansas State team goal is win the conference title.

“Obviously we know what we want to accomplish this year,” he said. “The loss (at Vanderbilt) definitely hurts us, but it doesn’t damage our goal of winning the Big 12 Championship. That’s something we can definitely still do. My goals are the same as they’ve been. I’m going to keep working to improve and get better, to find different ways I can help this team win games.”

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Article by David Smale

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