Michael Schad, offensive tackle, Queen's University. 6-5, 290, 4.89 40. Incredible physical specimen, eye-catching speed and exceptional athletic ability. Diamond in the rough. Needs a great deal of work on his position technique but is most advanced player from Canadian college in years. Hasn't faced top competition.
That's the sort of thing National Football League draftniks were saying last spring about Mike Schad, the incredible hulk from Canada.
Dick Steinberg, the New England Patriots' astute talent scout, said cautiously that Schad "doesn't look like your typical green Canadian (football player)."
Others noted that anything else that big from the north woods had antlers, or was a blue ox named Babe. But this specimen also has two college degrees, can two-hand dunk a basketball, run the hurdles and handle a 50-caliber machine gun.
The Rams were so impressed that they spent a first-round draft choice on him and slipped him across the border early one morning, right under the noses of the Dieter Brock Fan Club. The NFL had never drafted a Canadian player that high.
Schad was no secret, though, in the NFL. His agent, Gil Scott, the Toronto businessman who also brought Brock south, said that NFL interest was nil until some Canadian Shriners exerted pressure to get him into the East-West game at Stanford last December.
He played so well in it--he gained the attention of Ram Coach John Robinson when he made a tackle inside the 20-yard line on a kickoff --that Schad rose to about a potential third-round choice when he took physical tests for the National Football Scouting combine at New Orleans, "and from there it just snowballed."
There was suspicion that if the Rams hadn't claimed Schad, the Raiders would have on the next turn.
Since the draft, although he still is unsigned, Schad has been working out with other young linemen at Rams Park. He may not be the reason why veteran Bill Bain asked for his release to seek an opportunity elsewhere, but Schad, coldly analytical, has even set his sights on starting tackles Irv Pankey and Jackie Slater. He plans to play this season.
"I know I'm gonna play," Schad said. "Between Jackie Slater and Irv Pankey, that's 40 games, including exhibition games. I'll be surprised if they both play all the games."
His only other serious rival is Mike Shiner, a 1985 free agent from Notre Dame.
"Mike Shiner has the jump on me right now, with a year's experience," Schad said. "But it's just experience and technique. It's coming fast."
Schad hasn't played against many people his own size--Canadian college football is probably on a level between the NCAA's Divisions II and III--but he is not hampered by an inferiority complex.
Gord Smith, his coach at Moira Secondary (High) School in Belleville, Ontario, said by phone: "I've never met a more motivated athlete. This has been his goal for six years."
Smith said that Schad first impressed him when he walked in the door. "He was 6-5, 240 when he was 16 and playing as a junior. Mike was always pretty quick for a big kid. He went to our provincial regional meet as a hurdler. As a high school basketball player he was intimidating as hell.
"I remember a basketball playoff when we were playing lethargically and I got on their case and told Mike to take the ball and take it to the hole. He took the ball to the foul line, took one step and jammed the ball and about took the rim off. The other team just stood and watched. It ended up about a 40-point spread after that."
The Moira Trojans were undefeated in Schad's last two seasons, winning the Central Ontario championship each year.
"Mike played mostly defense in high school," Smith said. "I had him at middle linebacker. He had great pursuit ability."
Smith even toyed with the idea of using Schad as a running back.
"We thought it would be interesting to have this great big guy running the ball, but we knew his future would probably be as a lineman."
But if the Chicago Bears could use William Perry in the backfield in special situations, Schad would certainly fit. He even looks like an athlete. He may change the way people think about Canadian football players.
"I think maybe some people will take notice now," Smith said. "When he was in his final year here the only thing that happened in the States was a couple of yawns. Nobody even came to see him play. It might show that Canadian kids can play.
"I think Mike realizes it will take at least a year to pick up the technique, because of lack of experience. The American kids have had a higher intensity coaching program than Canadian kids get. Some experienced guys might turn him around a few times, but he's got the motivation and the physical tools."
Bob Howes, his position coach at Queen's, said: "He's read about all the people down there in the NFL, and he's geared himself to working beyond our league. If anybody can handle it, he can. I don't know who's gonna work harder."