Now is the time for Eric Schmid.
After finally getting a taste of the starting quarterback life last year, the Sam Houston State signal-caller is ready to put a full season together.
Schmid, who led The Woodlands to a state championship game appearance in 2016, enters the upcoming campaign as a redshirt junior. He cut his teeth in the program for two seasons before earning six starts last fall. He made the most of those opportunities and is now entrenched at the position for head coach K.C. Keeler.
“I’m feeling really comfortable,” Schmid said. “This is my third year learning this specific offense. Last year, I knew it pretty well, and now it’s just about repping everything out and getting used to it more. Being able to add some new stuff and really expand the offense will be fun.”
Schmid completed 59% of his passes for 1,733 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. His breakout game came during a 45-6 victory over Incarnate Word in September when he completed 29 of 44 passes for 531 yards and five scores. It was the second-highest passing yardage total for a single game in school history, and the performance earned him Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors. He also earned a “helmet sticker” from ESPN college football analyst Joey Galloway.
“It was awesome,” Schmid said. “I was super glad to finally get out there and actually play in some big games and be the starter. My first two years, I didn’t get hardly any snaps. My redshirt freshman year, I played in five or six games, but I played two plays a game. Finally being out there and playing a full game was awesome.”
After his eye-popping performance against Incarnate Word, Schmid was knocked out of the following game against McNeese State with an injury.
“One of my main goals is just to stay healthy,” Schmid said. “Last year, getting injured was really frustrating for me — finally getting out there and then breaking my hand. Really, I just want to be a good player for my team. That’s my biggest goal — do whatever it takes to win football games.”
Schmid has learned plenty during his time with the Bearkats, and his football acumen has risen to an all-time high. That will be an important weapon for Schmid as he attempts to deconstruct Southland Conference defenses on Saturdays this fall.
“In high school, you know how to look at defenses and stuff, but when you get to college, everything is different,” Schmid said. “You have to make decisions a lot quicker, where you’re going with the football. So that’s the aspect that I’ve really grown in since I got to school.”
The coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed the offseason for college football players around the country. That obviously includes Schmid and the rest of the Bearkats, who are looking to improve from their 7-5 overall record from last season. Sam Houston finished 6-3 in conference play.
“We feel confident,” Schmid said. “The coaches have been saying whoever takes this the most seriously and follows all the rules and does whatever it takes right now are going to be the ones who are the most happy at the end of the year with their outcome. We’ve just got to follow protocol and do what we can right now.”
The status of the college football season remains unclear as practices draw closer. Multiple Power Five conferences have already canceled non-league games. Regardless of when the Bearkats get back on the field, Schmid knows they will be prepared. Sam Houston is scheduled to begin its season at home against Tarleton State on Saturday, Sept. 5.
“I am ready to be back, that’s 100% for sure,” Schmid said. “This break that we had was fun at first, but after a while, I just started to get bored, and I was ready to get back. I was telling everybody I was wishing I was back at school, working out and doing all that stuff. I’m very ready.”
Schmid was named The Courier’s Player of the Year as a senior at The Woodlands after accounting for more than 4,700 total yards and 61 touchdowns. He set several program records that season as the Highlanders finished 15-1 and lost to Lake Travis in the Class 6A Division I title game.
Schmid’s father, Mark, was the coach of that legendary team at The Woodlands. Following 14 years as the head coach of the Highlanders, Mark Schmid stepped down from his post in early 2018. He has since returned to the high school ranks as the head coach at Oak Ridge and still remains a heavy influence on Eric’s football career.
“He’s the one who gave me my love for football,” Schmid said. “My senior year, all the way back to my sixth-grade year, we drove to school together every day. We lived an hour and a half away, and we would just talk about football most of the time. He’s been extremely important in my life, and I wouldn’t be where I’m at without him.”