K-State’s Dalton Schoen achieves walk-on dream with touchdown catch

Kansas State wide receiver Byron Pringle, right, blows a kiss to fans while celebrating his touchdown with teammate Dalton Schoen (83) during the first half of last week’s game against Central Arkansas in Manhattan. Schoen, a walk-on from Blue Valley Northwest High School, also caught a touchdown pass in the Wildcats’ 55-19 win. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

MANHATTAN — Dalton Schoen knew what was in store when he joined the Kansas State football team as a walk-on. All he had to do was talk to his older brother, Mason, who is a walk-on with the Wildcat basketball team.

 

“Once I saw he got a spot here I thought it was something maybe I could do,” Dalton said. “We’re pretty close and we talk about the differences in what’s going on with the programs. We talk about how cool it is that we’re both here doing what we love to do and being part of what we always dreamt of being a part of.”

Mason is the only senior on the K-State basketball team for the 2017-18 season while Dalton is in his sophomore season. While Mason has played a total of 33 minutes in 23 games over the past two seasons, Dalton has made a quick impact. With Dominique Heath sitting out the opening game last week, he was in the starting lineup and caught a 70-yard touchdown pass in the 55-19 win over Central Arkansas.

“It’s surreal but a dream come true,” Schoen said of the TD on his only reception. “I knew when I came here I’d get an opportunity but I knew I’d have to work for it. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past three years. I had a feeling when I first got here that somewhere down the road I might contribute but I knew it would be a long road with a lot of work.”

Schoen grew up in a family of K-State fans in Overland Park. A poster of coach Bill Snyder’s “16 Goals for Success” hung on the wall and he has committed them to memory.

“I just tried to buy into the effort, discipline and hard work it takes to make it in this program,” he said. “The offseason workouts are tough. There’s no easy way around it so you have to dig deep and fight for everything you get. I try to constantly improve because that’s what this program is all about.”

Coming out of Blue Valley Northwest High School, Schoen had college options but only one desired destination.

“I had quite a few Division II offers but I didn’t really look at most of those because I knew I wanted to major in engineering and most Division II programs don’t have as good an education program,” Schoen said. “I was looking at some Division III programs that were good education-wise and talking to some Ivy League and Patriot League schools and talking to Oklahoma State about a walk-on offer.

“Once I had the opportunity to come here, I knew I was coming here for sure because it’s always been my dream to play here. I couldn’t pass that up.”

The opportunity to join the program even as a walk-on had to be approved by Snyder.

“I think this was a program he wanted to be in, but by the same token it’s not a total open-door policy,” Snyder said. “We had an interest in him, as well. It was a mutual respect.”

Schoen began to make his presence known during spring practice, catching four passes for 57 yards in the Purple/White Spring Game.

“From the moment he got here, I knew he had something special about him,” said Wildcat safety Brogan Barry, who began his career as a walk-on and was put on scholarship this year as a senior. “He’s very talented and to see the growth and maturation he’s had in the past couple of years, there’s no guy who works harder than him.

“He just broke the 300-yard shuttle record for wide receivers which has been standing for 20 years. He works so hard and to see him get that touchdown was a great feeling.”

K-State has a rich tradition of walk-on success stories such as Jordy Nelson, B.J. Finney, Ryan Mueller, Will Geary and Trent Tanking. Schoen hasn’t reached that stature, but he’s working to get the most of his opportunity with the next chance Saturday when No. 19 K-State plays Charlotte at 11 a.m. at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

“Last spring I was lucky enough to start working some with the ones and twos,” Schoen said. “I tried to take advantage of that opportunity as much as I could to make some plays here and there, and that allowed me to climb into the core group a little bit. Over the summer and in fall camp I continued to do what I could to make plays and do all the little things right and I kind of kept creeping up the depth chart.

“It’s hard coming in as a walk-on at the bottom but it makes you more hungry. You have to keep grinding through it and eventually you can see yourself climb, and that little bit of success makes you work even harder.”


Contact Ken Corbitt at (785) 295-1123 or @KenCorbitt on Twitter.


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