By Kyle Daubs

The way that Jerry Payne sees it, football is going to be a bonus. 

The Charleston High School head football coach couldn’t be prouder of senior defensive back Sam Schuette for officially committing to NCAA Division III University of Wisconsin-Platteville. When it comes to school, Payne knows that Schuette is one of the best in his class, so finding an academic school was very important. 

“I think it’s fantastic and a great opportunity for him,” said Payne. “He’s been searching pretty hard and has visited a few different schools trying to find a place that had the academics. Sam is one of the top students in his class. Add the football aspect and it’s an overall great choice for him.”

Listed at 6 feet 2, 175 pounds a year ago, Schuette earned All-Apollo Second-Team honors at wide receiver and at free safety in 2019. Schuette caught 29 passes for 471 yards and two touchdowns on offense. On defense. Schuette added 57.5 tackles and four interceptions, including a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown against Effingham. 

“I feel lucky to have this opportunity,” said Schuette. “To play at the collegiate level has always been a goal of mine. Charleston will always be my home, but I am happy to make Platteville, Wisconsin my second home. I am also really excited about the renovations Platteville is making to the science building that will be completed by the fall. I plan to major in the sciences.”

Schuette said that he had offers from Knox College, Augustana College, Rose-Hulman (Indiana), Sewanee (Tennessee), and Sterling College (Kansas). In the end, he chose Wisconsin-Platteville because of the relationship that he built with the staff. 

“The people and program were the two biggest factors I considered,” said Schuette. “The coaches at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville seemed to care about me. The program focus is ‘Team – First’, and I have always strived to be a great teammate first. But definitely, it was the people and the coaches.”

In March 2019, Platteville head coach Mike Emendorfer was inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) Hall of Fame. The Pioneers have been voted in the top 15 of the NCAA Division III rankings four of the last six preseason polls with two of those teams making the NCAA playoffs. 

Emendorfer just completed his 21st as head coach, where he has an overall record of 108-104. In 2016, he became the all-time winningest coach in school history. In the last eight seasons, his teams have gone 60-21. 

“The head coach, Mike Emendorfer is very personable,” said Schuette.

Schuette, who is projected to play defensive back, says he will work more closely with defensive coordinator Dan Bauder. We have been talking quite a bit for the last 12 months,” Schuette said. “I cannot wait to play for Coach Bauder.”

Schuette said that he is willing to play anywhere. In a three-safety back end scheme, he is likely to play the middle safety position. However, his willingness to play anywhere is what Payne believes makes him so attractive as a college prospect. 

“Hard-nosed player that gives 100 percent all the time,” said Payne. “He simply does not give up. He works hard, excels in the weight room, and excels on the field. When he is with the freshman, he’s one of the first guys to come over and correct a mistake they made or show them the steps.”

Payne said he believes Schuette might eventually be a captain. 

“Sam is an outstanding person,” said Payne. “I’ve known Sam since the fifth grade. He’s always been one of those kids that tried to help the other person out. Academically, he’s a student that always takes on new challenges. He could have taken it easy this year, but elected to enroll in health occupations. He has a real passion for whatever he does. He’s going to grow into a great leader up there.”

Schuette had plenty of people to thank for helping him get to this point. 

“I would like to thank my dad, mom, sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, teammates, and coaches for all of their support throughout my career on the gridiron,” said Schuette. “CHS Head Coach Jerry Payne works really hard and preaches effort, attitude, and teamwork. He makes it fun. I am looking forward to playing six more games this spring.  I would also like to give a big thanks to the Charleston Community for the endless support they give to all of the athletes that go through Charleston Athletics.”