2016 NFL Draft Prospect Jon Schnaars Feature Interview


My relationship with Jon is a bit unique in that I was GA Wide Receiver Coach during his Junior season at ESU. I got to work with him daily and see his practice habits, game day performance and prep, and his off the field preparations for success. I can honestly say that I am not surprised John has done great things. I think everyone can agree that breaking as many records as he did in his senior season went beyond their expectations, but if someone was capable of doing it, it was John Schnaars. Why? Because John is the kind of individual who always has a fire in his eyes and heart. The intensity, passion, and purity he plays with is rare. Anyone can train to possess physical skills and attributes, anyone can improve their game and technique. It's often said that the intangibles are what separate the good from the great. And Mr. Schnaars has all of the above.

He has been generous enough to spare some of his time from training and preparing for the 2016 NFL Draft and his Pro Day on March 17th to share some insight into his record-breaking senior season, the process of being a draft eligible player, and to tell us a little bit about how he went from ESU walk-on Wide Receiver to arguably one the best in the college game in 2015.

Modern Athletic Health:

What types of things do you do in your training and have you adjusted your training at all to prepare for the regional combine or your pro day? Tell us a little about your trainer, Ryan Mackes.

Jon:

I workout with a former Temple Wide Receiver Jalen Fitzpatrick and our trainer is Ryan Mackes. We do a bunch of workouts including position specific drills, combine prep, and weight lifting. Ryan really knows how to pin point everything to make each workout different and challenging. He has a football background and doesn’t take it easy on us at all, and I really enjoy that because that is making me better. We are currently in the fine-tuning stage of our workouts with Jalen and I’s pro days coming up.

Modern Athletic Health:

Tell us about the regional combine in Baltimore, How did you do? How did you prepare and what was the atmosphere like?

Jon:

It was a very different atmosphere. Just walking in to the Ravens facility was eye opening because of the Super Bowl banners and former players’ names you saw. It was very nerve-wracking at first but once we started to get ready I just saw it as a game and knew Ryan had prepared me more than enough. We did a “mock” combine that week where we went to the field to do all the tests just to make sure I knew what to expect and was ready. I did really well, especially in the 20 yard shuttle where I ran the fastest time for any receiver in any combine. I did well in all the other drills but there is always room for improvement so we got right back to work that Monday after.

Modern Athletic Health:

Tell us about your upcoming Pro Day at Penn State. Do you know what to expect? What types of things will you be doing?

Jon:

I pretty much know what to expect. It is just going to be a very big difference however going to one of the most prestigious colleges in the country in front of scouts watching your every move. I really enjoy pressure however because it brings out the best in me. It’s going to be mostly the same as the Baltimore combine, with a few more tests to perform. It’s the day Ryan and I have been preparing for since I graduated in December and we both believe I am more than ready.

Modern Athletic Health:

Have you spoken to any other players or any coaches for tips on this whole process? If so, who? And what have they suggested to you?

Jon:

My 2 former roommates went through this process when they graduated and I have asked them for tips. Robbie Bleiler who just played over in Denmark and won a championship there, and Steve Jones who is playing in the MLFB that was just created this year. Our stories are different but it is always nice to get a different view on things, especially my friends who I respect and know they will tell me straight up. Ryan helps me a lot too because he has had guys he trained before go through all of this.

Modern Athletic Health:

Looking at teams with wide receiver needs this season, are there any in particular who you're hoping call your name on draft day?

Jon:

I am not really focusing on one single team because in the end I am hoping for at least one team to give me a shot at playing for them and I will make the most of it. I am a big Raiders fan though, so of course that would be very cool to play for them.

Modern Athletic Health:

Do you have any idea of where you may be drafted?

Jon:

I have heard different things but I am just trying to focus on getting myself ready and just let things fall into place.

Modern Athletic Health:

What would you tell kids in high school or college now who want the opportunity to get drafted but may not necessarily be in the best position to do so? What tips can you give them?

Jon:

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. Everyone has their own story and you just have to focus on becoming the best player you can be. You never know who is watching and one day that could turn into a team giving you a chance. I started from nowhere as a walk on at ESU, but I kept myself focused on what I knew I could do, regardless of what anyone said, and put myself in the position I am not.

Modern Athletic Health:

Talk about your teammates and coaches. How have they helped get you to this point?

Jon:

They are family to me. My offensive coordinator has done so much for me and he was the one who gave me a chance when I told him I could be a great player for him. He never made it easy for me, and along with him Coach Lupe my receiver coach pushed me every day. I really thought he did not like me my freshman year because he would always point out the things I did wrong, even after a good play. But as I grew up, I understood he knew who I could be and he was not going to let me settle for anything but my best. Coach Douds my head coach is most likely the greatest man I have ever met, and he tought all of us things that go beyond football. They all have made me into the player, and more importantly the man I am today. My teammates were a big part of my success too, I was with them all the time and we did everything together so they are like my brothers. We sweat, bled, laughed and cried together for 4-5 years and I would do anything for them. They pushed me every day to be great and we never took a back seat off of anybody. THE BLOOD RUNS THICK

Modern Athletic Health:

What's your 2-3 biggest strengths on the field, What do you do best?

Jon:

My biggest strengths are my ability to catch the ball, my body control, and the physicality I play with on the field. I really believe I play offense with a defensive mindset, and that sets me apart.

Modern Athletic Health:

What are 2-3 things you are working to improve on, how?

Jon:

The biggest thing I am always trying to improve on is my top end speed. Especially in the NFL, everyone is fast and that has always been the knock on me, but I have gotten faster every year and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

Modern Athletic Health:

Has your family played a large role in your football career thus far? How so?

Jon:

My family has always had my back on any decision I made. Whether it was school, football, or life in general. They always stressed to me to make sure I got my academics down first, and football second. I understood football has to end at some point but nobody can take your degree away from you. They traveled to every game I played in and it was amazing to see them cheering for me every game, in the good and bad times. I am trying to achieve my dream to play in the NFL for them, as much as for myself.

Modern Athletic Health:

When you're not training or dominating on the field, what do you enjoy doing? How do you relax and keep yourself grounded?

Jon:

I am working at under armour so that keeps me busy, but other than that I enjoy watching tv shows and any sport I can find on the TV.

Modern Athletic Health:

What does football mean to you?

Jon:

Football is my life. I have been playing since second grade and even have the word tattooed on my body. I don’t think I can picture my life without it, because it has turned me into the man I am today, with all of the lessons it has given me.

Modern Athletic Health:

Andre Reed was the last big time receiver to come out of the PSAC from ESU rival Kutztown, is it a goal of yours to have a Hall of Fame career like his?

Jon:

It would be great to follow in the footsteps of a great like Andre Reed. He is definitely a guy that I look up to and I can hope that one day I do anywhere close to what he was able to accomplish, especially coming from a small school like me.

Modern Athletic Health:

What does being an athlete mean to you?

Jon:

Being an athlete to me shows that you are willing to sacrifice for the betterment of others. In this day and age, it is so rare to see someone that isn’t more inclined to have other people’s interests before them. But when you are on a team that is exactly what you do. It’s a whole, if we lose, WE lose, and when we win, we all win. It’s not an individual game, and it is different than any other sport to play football. It teaches you things nothing else can, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Modern Athletic Health:

Everyone defines success differently. What does success mean to you?

Jon:

Success means to me that you set out to do something, and you worked your tail off to get there. Success does not come easy, but the feeling you have when you are successful is the greatest thing in the world.

Modern Athletic Health:

You mentioned to me that you weren't given a scholarship to ESU, that you started your career as a walk-on. Were you given scholarships anywhere else? If so, why did you choose to go to ESU?

Jon:

I was given academic scholarships to a bunch of schools that I passed up to play football. I was not offered money to play football anywhere, but I told my dad I wanted to go to the highest level that showed interest in me and show I could play. I loved the visit to ESU and when Coach Twig called me and said he saw something special in me and wanted me to walk on, I jumped right on it.

Modern Athletic Health:

What made your record breaking senior year possible? You pretty much crushed the record books and not in just one or two categories. How can one player change the game like that in a single season?

Jon:

Hard work and preparation. I lived up at school over the summer to be able to workout with some teammates and sacrificed seeing my family and friends. It was my last guaranteed year to play football, and I was going to make the most of it. My friends and coaches both told me they believed I was over-training, but I knew my body and had set goals for myself that were not going to be possible without my best. I enjoy when people tell me I cant do something, because it only pushes me more to prove them wrong. But now its not about them, it is about proving myself and my loved ones right, and playing how we all know I can.

Modern Athletic Health:

Is there anything you want to add or say to the people who may see this interview?

Jon:

If you set your mind to something you can always control your destiny. If your dreams do not scare you, they aren’t big enough.

Jon Schnaars graduated from East Stroudsburg University with a degree in Business Management and has plans to attend law school after pursuing his NFL goals.

His 2015 season led Division II in receptions per game (10.4), yards per game (146.4) and touchdowns (22), posting 114 catches for 1,610 yards in just 11 games. His effort last season put him inside the top 10 in DII history in all three major receiving categories. His career numbers include 239 catches, 3,447 yards and 45 touchdowns. His best effort of 2015 came against Shippensburg on Oct. 3 when Schnaars set PSAC records with 20 catches, 218 yards and 7 touchdowns in ESU's 69-67, five-overtime loss to the Red Raiders. He was named to the D2Football.com All America First Team and recognized by three other national organizations - Associated Press Little All-America team, D2CCA (selected by DII's sports information directors) and AFCA (selected by DII's football coaches).

East Stroudsburg University hosts Warrior Football Camp anually. The purpose of East Stroudsburg University's Warrior Football Camp is to give each participant the finest football instruction while having fun at the same time. Under the guidance of superior football coaching staff, unique lectures, demonstrations, and drill sessions are presented daily in all aspects of football. Campers will utilize the same athletic facilities that some of the top ESU Division II players like Jon have used.

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