CEDAR FALLS — After piling up 31 sacks in his final two seasons at Northern Iowa, the prevailing thought was Karter Schult would find his way onto an NFL roster in 2017.
The Tripoli native signed with the Cleveland Browns last April as an undrafted free agent and had a productive preseason, totaling 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks as a reserve in four games. Despite his production, the Browns cut Schult and chose not to re-sign him to its 10-man practice squad. Then, to the surprise of many UNI fans and Schult himself, no other NFL teams came calling.
Now, a year later, the former UNI All-American is getting another opportunity to make an NFL roster after receiving invitations to Minnesota and Carolina’s rookie minicamps.
Minnesota’s minicamp was this past week and wrapped up on Sunday. Schult told The Gazette that despite the Vikings having a maxed out 90-man roster, he and his agent still felt convinced about taking advantage of the invite.
“I had a really good weekend with (the Vikings),” Schult said. “They brought me up to the front office and basically said a decision would be made in the next day or so and they could be in contact with my agent either (Monday) or Tuesday. I knew it was a good sign they called me up (to the front office).”
Schult is confident about parlaying his good performance at Minnesota’s minicamp into another in Carolina later this week. And, unlike the Vikings, the Panthers roster isn’t maxed out and Schult says a camp invite could be signed on the spot.
“They could sign a couple guys. And their defensive line isn’t as packed as Minnesota’s,“ Schult said. “(Carolina’s) defense might be a little different in terms of terminology and lingo. That’s probably going to be the biggest (difference), but when it comes down to it, it’s still going to be the same. Football is football.”
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Despite not being in the NFL last season Schult was able to get two competitive games under his belt earlier this year in The Spring League. He recorded three sacks in two games and made many more plays in the practices, which are scouted as heavily as the league’s games.
After solely focusing on training last fall, Schult got engaged to his longtime girlfriend and the couple moved to Des Moines, where he worked mornings at FedEx to help pay bills. In late November, he found work that was more to his liking at a gym in Waukee as a personal trainer.
If the NFL doesn’t come calling for Schult, don’t count on him staying at the gym. Multiple Canadian Football League teams will try to sign the former Panther if he doesn’t make an NFL roster this fall.
“I’m very surprised (to not be in the NFL),” Schult said. “As time went on, I was less surprised because I know now (that) it’s very business-like. All the shine of the outside doesn’t necessarily translate once you get into the business of it. It’s not always fair. Obviously I wish it would have went better but I wasn’t ready to give up on it so that’s why I’m in (this) situation now. I think being a year older, wiser, with more experience definitely works into my favor now.”