A year ago Cincinnati native J.K. Schafer stood on the sidelines of Nippert Stadium watching the Bearcats practice as he finished up his high school days. Only one year removed from LaSalle High School Schafer is spending this spring lining up with the first team defense and showing why many missed on him during the recruiting process.
"Yea, it's pretty crazy and feels unreal right now as I didn't expect to be in the spot I am now."
With the Bearcats defensive scheme changing from the 4-3 to the 3-4, Schafer has to be excited about his chances of getting a lot of playing time.
"It's a new defense but no matter what defense we run I'm going to do my best to be one of the top linebackers and be on the field."
We spoke during the season about the adjustments you made going from high school to college and playing some as a freshman. How much has things changed since then?
"It's been a lot of big steps in the classroom and on the field. It's been tough as you adjust to college courses and learning a college playbook. But I love playing football so the more I get to play the happier I am and I'm excited about the spring game."
So what was the biggest adjustment physically?
"The speed of the game because all of these guys out here are the best players from their teams. Even the linemen are able to get out there and move. But I feel the mental aspect of the game has been tougher than the physical part of it."
When Schafer made his commitment to the Bearcats there were those who questioned why he'd stay close to home. Now as a Big East Champion and having taken part in a BCS game Schafer knows more than most why a local product should stay home.
"I really don't have to say anything about it because it speaks for itself. For those out there looking at the program you should see a program on the rise and how good we have it here with the facilities and coaches."
The spring is only halfway over and J.K. Schafer is showing signs of having a chance to be a starter next season. With the spring game just two weeks away, Bearcat fans will have a chance to see more of Schafer in Bearcat Bowl III.
J.K. Schafer Stepping Forward
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