|« Sac State defender aims to tame speedy Montana State||Defense powers No. 2 Northern Iowa »|
Lafayette's Ross Scheuerman making the most of his opportunities
Lafayette College barely registered on Ross Scheuerman’s radar as a football destination during his recruitment at Allentown (N.J.) High School.
“I had heard very little about Lafayette and it definitely wasn’t one of my top schools before (Leopard assistant coach Stan) Clayton came to my school,” said the Leopards freshman running back.
Just a month into his first collegiate football season, Scheuerman comes up as perhaps the biggest blip opposing defenses face on their radar when they prepare for the Leopards.
In four games, Scheuerman, a 6-foot, 190-pound resident of Creamridge, N.J., has piled up 647 yards all-purpose yards (247 rushing, 141 receiving, 259 on kickoff returns). He averages 6.2 yards per carry and 15.7 per reception. He has been named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week twice in four weeks.
Scheuerman will continue to play a key role for Lafayette (1-3) in Saturday’s home opener against Harvard (1-1) as the Leopards try to avenge an ugly 35-10 loss to the Crimson in Easton last season.
Scheuerman said he was surprised to see the ball so much so early but said he’s getting used to the demands placed on him.
“I was not expecting to make this kind of impact this soon,” Scheuerman said. “It’s a lot to put on me, but I think I am starting to adjust really well now. There’s a lot of aspects of the game I need to work, such as pass protection, but I’m going to go and get better.”
Scheuerman brings speed, elusiveness and that little extra that can be called moxie or niftiness when he carries the ball, and he’s already produced multiple big plays, including a 52-yard catch and 44-yard run in last week’s loss at Stony Brook.
Lafayette coach Frank Tavani likes what he sees so far from his freshman standout.
“Ross has done a wonderful job with all we’re asking him to do, return kicks, catch the ball, run,” Tavani said. “He’s really phenomenal at this point, though he’s still learning.”
Lafayette fans could learn to love Scheuerman for several reasons even besides his production. First, guess who he turned down to come to College Hill?
“It came down to (Lafayette) or Lehigh and I wasn’t happy with my visit there,” said Scheuerman, who plans to major in economics and business. “Then I visited Lafayette and really liked the mindset of the team and people here. I’m used to a smaller environment, I’m from a small town, and I like the atmosphere around here a lot.”
Second, Scheuerman shares the passion of many Lehigh Valley sports fans for wrestling. He had wrestled since fourth grade and placed sixth at the NJSIAA championships as a senior at 171 pounds. Tavani, who saw Scheuerman’s 100th win, was impressed with the ease that Scheuerman, wrestling up at 189 pounds, disposed of his larger foe – especially given the circumstances.
“I was sick all that week,” Scheuerman said. “I didn’t practice all week and I was really thin.”
Though he chose to play football in college, Scheuerman acknowledged wrestling played a huge role in his success.
“Wrestling gives you the mentality that you have to beat the guy in front of you,” Scheuerman said. “It’s only you and him and when you lose it’s embarrassing. I never wanted to lose, and I bring the same attitude to football.”
Scheuerman said the weight issues of going from football to wrestling could be difficult – he would play football at 185-190 pounds and wrestle at 171 –and he said that he could understand why many scholastic football coaches would be concerned with their athletes’ losing weight. But Scheuerman urged boys in his position to keep up the two sports.
“Football practice is intense but there’s nothing like a wrestling practice,” Scheuerman said. “I’d go from football to wrestling and I wasn’t in wrestling shape. I’d say definitely, keep wrestling even if you want to play football. Too many high school kids focus on one sport but being a multi-sport athlete helps a lot.”
The mental toughness Scheuerman developed as a scholastic athlete has come in handy as he deals with the whirlwind of the first month of college.
“Time management is by far the biggest issue I’ve dealt with,” he said. “To plan for your academics and to play Division I football – the demands in high school aren’t even close. Like a lot of kids in high school academics came easy for me and I didn’t have to study that much. Here, it’s totally different. Academics takes a lot of time and football is 100 percent more intense. I focus hard on football for 2 1/2 hours, everything is football, and then everything is academics when I’m not on the field.”
During games, Scheuerman isn’t off the field too much – and he has the numbers to show it.
By Brad Wilson, The Express-Times