The end of NDSU defensive tackle Brian Schaetz's story as a Bison helps explain the beginning and the middle. After his time at North Dakota State, Schaetz plans to enter the Associate Trainee program at CHS, an agricultural corporation with a location in Kindred, North Dakota. "It's what I went to school for, it's what I love. Agriculture." explains Schaetz. After graduation, the former walk-on will enter an 18 month leadership program with the St. Paul, Minnesota based company.
This should come as no surprise. Farm work and hard work are second nature to Schaetz. Growing up on a dairy farm in Denmark, Wisconsin, Schaetz is a stranger to neither. As a walk on athlete that spent most of the recruiting cycle planning on wrestling at the Division II level, Schaetz had to deal with a lot of football programs in the recruiting process that had given out their scholarships.
"Just work hard. This program is built for guys that are walk-ons. They bring in plenty of walk-ons here. If you show that you're a hard working, disciplined kind of guy and you keep moving forward, get great grades, you'll (do) well at this program" explained Schaetz. As a redshirting member of the scout team, Schaetz worked hard enough to earn a half scholarship the following season.
A scholarship wasn't the only thing he earned while on scout team. Schaetz was given the moniker "Man-Bear-Pig" by (now TE/FB coach) Tyler Roehl during preparation for a playoff game with Georgia Southern. The nickname was based on the player Schaetz was imitating for the Bison offense. It stuck.....kinda. The defensive tackle put his own spin on the name, dropping the "pig" and reclassifying himself as "sexy". You can now follow Schaetz on Twitter at @sexymanbear61. The Sexy Man Bear has certainly been an on-field beast for North Dakota State.
The beginning of Schaetz's career was a quick study. Schaetz went from a redshirt on the scout team immediately into a defensive tackle rotation with Ryan Drevlow and Leevon Perry, arguably the best defensive tackle tandem in school history. Playing behind two Bison legends was a learning experience. "I learned a lot, Ryan Drevlow is a great resource to talk to, to this day. Leevon Perry, I learned so many aspects of the game from him, his athleticism. Drevlow was a guy that could break down a play, just if a guy was leaning one way or the other, he was micro-managing football" said Schaetz.
Just as quickly as Schaetz picked up from Drevlow and Perry, he was thrown into a leadership role. Before the 2014 season both Drevlow and Perry graduated, as did key reserve Danny Luecke. Schaetz was all of a sudden the elder statesman in the defensive tackle rotation, and the leader by default. Schaetz had to bring along Nate Tanguay and Grant Morgan, who had both spent the legendary 2013 season redshirting. "It was fun. We definitely had to get everybody together, because we were such a young group. We had to keep ourselves together so we did yoga sessions together, watched film together, did a lot of things that not a lot of other programs do" said Schaetz.
Defensive tackles aren't often on the highlight reel. Even tackles for loss are often executed with a beaten blocker holding on or have occured in such a tight space that a big hit isn't possible. That doesn't seem to be the case for the Man Bear. Every few games Schaetz makes a huge play. The emphatic tackle for loss to start this year's Western Illinois game (Schaetz's favorite play as a collegian), a "pouncing" sack at the end of the Indiana State game and a punishing hit at Iowa State in 2014 (GIF'd below) come to mind.
Despite playing a large number of snaps in each game, Schaetz seems to do most of his damage in the 4th quarter. Each of his last 2.5 sacks have come in the final period of different games. His late-game play is yet another testament to legendary strength and conditioning coach Jim Kramer. "Teams kinda get tired out. Right off the bat they try to bring their all. Once you get near the end of the fourth quarter, it's more of our conditioning and pride that kicks in" said Schaetz.
Pride. Bison Pride. Brian Schaetz is a player that exemplifies Bison Pride. Schaetz was the wrestling son of a dairy farmer coming into college, and he has has a chance to leave with five FCS national championship rings. "Looking back throughout the years, and looking around me at the future, it's amazing how Bison football works. How guys have grown throughout this program and how I've grown. It's pretty surreal, it's sad at the same time. It's hard when football ends, but I don't want it to end until after January."