MANHATTAN — Dalton Schoen is still trying to wrap his mind around the situation in which he finds himself.
A walk-on wide receiver at Kansas State, Schoen had a shining moment in the first game of the season against Central Arkansas when he caught a 70-yard touchdown pass. He called it a surreal feeling, but it wasn’t just a one-time, feel-good moment.
Schoen had four receptions the next week against Charlotte, and last week at Texas he caught five passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns covering 82 and 12 yards.
The walk-on is K-State’s second-leading receiver with 11 catches and leads the team in yardage at 269 and touchdowns (three).
“It still feels kind of surreal but I try not to think about it too much and just keep doing what I’m doing,” Schoen said. “I try not to let the moment get too big and just let it come to me.
“I’m just going to try to keep doing what I’ve been doing, which is working to get better every day and try to find ways to contribute to this team.”
He contributed in a big way in the 40-34 double-overtime loss at Texas, first with the 82-yard touchdown on an inside post pattern.
“They had a backer at the nickel so I was able to get an easy release behind him,” Schoen said. “The safety above me went to a cover-two and got way off the hash so I was able to bend it back to the middle of the field and caught the ball with a lot of space and ran away from them.”
Schoen won the foot race but still must endure jokes about his speed — even from coach Bill Snyder.
“He’s slower than I am and the youngster that was chasing him runs faster than most players we have,” Snyder said. “When he caught the ball there was about five yards separation and when he crossed the goal line there was about five yards separation. In other words, even though he was a faster (defender), he didn’t close on him, and that’s just heart and want-to. That’s what I appreciated about the play so much.”
Schoen, who says he runs a 4.6 or 4.7 in the 40, has grown accustomed, if not weary, of comments on his speed.
“I get that a lot about lack of speed but I haven’t gotten caught, yet,” he said. “It definitely feels good to get separated and get in the end zone and not get run down from behind.”
The 6-foot-1, 205 pound sophomore from Overland Park (Blue Valley Northwest) has become a reliable, sure-handed target while others in the receiving corps have had issues with dropped balls.
“Dalton is a baller,” said Wildcat quarterback Alex Delton. “What I appreciate about Dalton is you can put anything in front of him and he’ll do it. He had a great off-season and really stood out. You can call him anytime to watch film or catch routes after practice and he’s going to be the guy who will do that.
“This is just the beginning for him. I think he has a really bright future in our offense.”
Delton and Schoen could play key roles when K-State (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) plays No. 6 TCU (5-0, 2-0) at 11 a.m. Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Delton may get his first collegiate start with Jesse Ertz questionable with a knee injury, and the passing game will need to click against a Horned Frog defense that is strong against the run.
“It was definitely an improvement,” Schoen said of the K-State passing game against Texas. “We had better execution. We did a better job of getting where we needed to be, spreading the ball around and making catches. It was an improvement from the past couple of weeks but there’s room to get better.”
Contact Ken Corbitt at (785) 295-1123 or @KenCorbitt on Twitter.