Schofield prepares for season ahead

Defensive end hopes to transition to linebacker

Wisconsin verbal commit O'Brien Schofield has a challenging few weeks ahead of him on the gridiron. His high school team commences its season Friday in Champaign, Ill., against Edwardsville and next faces Evanston, Libertyville and Lincolnshire Stevenson, all 2003 playoff teams. Adding to the challenge is the fact that North Chicago Community High School is a Class 6A school with less than 1,000 students, smaller than any school it faces this season, in conference or non-conference play. Two of their non-conference opponents are in the larger school Class 7A and two are Class 8A. Lincolnshire boasts a population of more than 4,300.

It is not the ideal way to start a football season but once North Chicago hits the conference schedule, Schofield expects things to get easier.

"I'm not saying we've got the other teams in the bag but most of the teams, it's not much of a challenge because we've been playing with them all these years and we kind of know the offense," Schofield said. "Most of the teams here don't have a passing game. Like last year, our defense was passed on the whole season seven times."

Schofield is part of that stifling defense. In addition to playing wide receiver and kicker, Schofield is a defensive end who had 12 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 13 fumble recoveries and three defensive touchdowns in his junior year. He was part of a defensive line that emphasized speed over hitting and said the pass rush was, "like, two seconds."

"We got a great push off the ball," Schofield said. "We don't get to hit nobody but the first few days (of fall camp), we hit the sleigh coming off the ball… and he times us. If we don't get a certain time, then we run. So everybody's quick."

Schofield's speed—he runs the 200 meters and 800- and 1600-meter relays in track—is one thing that appealed to college coaches when he was being recruited, in addition to his versatility and his fundamentals.

"My fundamentals, that I'm very good with fundamentals. I pick up things real quick," Schofield said on reasons he was offered a spot at Wisconsin. "Very quick, speed, I'm very athletic. I can play just about any position on the team."

Schofield was recruited with the intent of playing strongside linebacker, so he's using part of his senior campaign to prepare for the position change. He trained throughout the summer and occasionally played linebacker. Schofield has often played outside linebacker when his team goes to a "3-5" set, but he could play linebacker full time this year if a capable replacement develops. As a result, Schofield has been working with teammate junior Brian Henderson on the finer points of defensive end.

"I'm working with [Henderson], trying to get him to be ready," Schofield said. "If he can keep the outside contained…then they'll move me to linebacker this year so I can have the experience. I'm working hard to help him out."

--Jonathan Linder contributed to this report

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