CEDAR FALLS — Football is family when it comes to the Schultes.
Duane Schulte — head coach of Cedar Rapids Xavier — led the Saints to the Class 3A state championship last weekend with his son Quinn under center in the UNI-Dome. That’s the same UNI-Dome where his eldest son, Reggie, received his first career game action just two days later in Northern Iowa’s 41-3 win over Indiana State.
“Initially I’m thinking we’ll hopefully get a couple first downs and wind the clock out because there was like five minutes left,” Reggie said. “It got a little closer and there was like two minutes and then just hopefully I get a chance at all to get out there.
“Then once I got out there I thought about throwing a deep pass to one of my buddies, Xavier James, who came in the class with me, but the situation never presented itself and the first snap goes between my legs and it made me think ‘you’ve got to be kidding me.’ It was definitely fun just getting out on the field and feeling like a college football player.”
After starring for Xavier as a prep, Reggie Schulte’s college sports experience is more like the majority of student-athletes. There are only 11 starters on offense and defense, and there’s hardly ever an opportunity for a quarterback to contribute on special teams. Schulte found himself stagnated on UNI’s depth chart, something that had him question whether the costs were worth the benefits.
“One particular winter I talked with my mom about whether or not I should stick it out or not,” Schulte said. “She told me that if you start something you’ve got to finish it (and) you’ve come so far already you can’t back out now. She said I’ve almost learned more about you going through it not being necessarily the star player or whatever and how you continue to work hard. That kind of hit home for me, kind of inspired me, and helped me get through maybe some of the longer days or whatnot.”
After the inspiration from mom, Schulte’s lack of action on game days didn’t prevent the former Saint from leaving a mark on his head coach and UNI’s program.
“Reggie is a senior and nobody wants to write about Reggie but I’m telling you Reggie’s the story,” head coach Mark Farley said. “Because he’s been here, he’s on that sideline (and) he knows our offense inside and out. He can walk out there and take a snap without practicing and run it as well as any quarterback I have. That’s the type of person he is. That’s how he prepares and knowing where he’s at I don’t know if everybody would do that if they were sitting in his shoes. That’s a very assuring feeling knowing you’ve got Reggie on the sideline for any of those instances where you’re not sure what the next step is — Reggie Schulte is the next step.”
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Those comments from Farley — who greenlit Schulte’s walk-on back in 2013 — echo that of the fifth-year quarterback’s teammates. Daurice Fountain, Eli Dunne, Jared Farley or one of his coaches all know Schulte is an important piece to the Panthers’ puzzle.
“Reggie? That’s the man,” Fountain said. “Reggie’s a high-energy guy. He does the stuff behind the scenes that you guys don’t see. He’s not out there making the big passes and all, but just keeping the team together. We really appreciate him for that.”
Besides being a signaler for UNI’s offense, Schulte wears a headset on game days and is a conduit between the coaching staff and starting quarterback. He’s inquisitive during film study and practice, something he knows has short and long-term benefits for his teammates and himself. He’s earned the trust of his teammates and coaches and, with his college career nearing its end, he’s likely to parlay his unique experience as a student-athlete into a coaching career.
“I always just loved being part of a team, ever since I was little so whatever I could do to help the team I would always be for,” Schulte said. “I always knew I wanted to coach in some capacity. I don’t know if there was a particular year, but learning all the nuances that come with the game — the more you’re around it the more it seems like you learn something new every day or every week. So that’s kind of what got the juices flowing a little bit. Maybe I could be good at something like this if I wanted to be.”