As a wide receiver at Slippery Rock University, John Schademan knows the hard work it takes getting open against aggressive defensive backs ... and he doesn't have to look very far for that reminder.
Tattooed on his right arm, taking up the entire inside of his biceps, are the words "you don't get anything" and on the inside of his left biceps is "without paying the price."
"My mom has always said that to me and I put that into my game," Schademan said. "You have to put in the hard work to get what you want in life."
Schademan has put in the hard work, and it is paying off for The Rock football team.
A Bethel Park High School graduate, Schademan has been steadily climbing his way into the SRU receiving record book. A redshirt senior in his third year in the program after transferring from Colgate, Schademan already has four 100-yard receiving games, the most in one season since Devin Goda had five in 2011.
"He has phenomenal work ethic, film study, practices hard every day, extra practice time," coach George Mihalik said. "He'll stay after practice to the point where a lot of times I have to go out and say 'That's enough, time to go.' He's just totally committed to having a great season."
The Rock offense has been having a great season, and much of it has to do with the no-huddle, spread offense implemented by Mihalik and offensive coordinator Phil Longo.
Long known as Tailback U. with running backs such as Chuck Sanders, Greg Paterra, LaMonte Coleman and Stan Kennedy bruising their way for big chunks of yardage, Slippery Rock of years past lined up and dared defenses to stop the running game.
More recently, however, the Green and White have been flying all over the field, tempting defenses to try to keep up.
"We're trying to rep as many plays as we can," Mihalik said. "Statistics would say the more times you snap the ball the more opportunities you have to gain yardage and score points."
Statistics also are saying the offense is putting up a lot of points.
The 58-10 victory against Kutztown Saturday marked the fourth time in five games this season Slippery Rock (4-1, 1-1 PSAC West) eclipsed the 50-point mark. As a team, The Rock leads the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference in scoring (50.4 points per game), passing yards (389.6 per game) and total yards (565.4 per game).
No other team in SRU history has posted as many 50-point games in a single season as this year's team.
"We have some good skill players, some receivers and running backs, if they focus just on John, these other guys have the ability to hurt a defense," Mihalik said. "[Against Mercyhurst] nine different guys caught a pass. We spread the ball around a lot and it's to the point where you just can't focus on one receiver. Some sets we'll have three, four or even five on the field."
It was against Mercyhurst that Schademan had arguably the finest game by a Rock receiver. A 6-foot, 195-pounder, he finished with 11 catches for an SRU school-record 229 yards and three touchdowns to spark a 58-34 victory. His effort landed him Beyond Sports Network Division II national offensive player of the week.
For the season, Schademan has 31 catches for 658 yards with 8 touchdowns. He is averaging 21.2 yards per catch and 131.6 yards per game. He ranks first in the PSAC in receiving yards, second in pass receiving touchdowns and fourth in pass receptions.
Nationally, Schademan is fourth in total receiving yards in Division II, tied for fourth in receiving touchdowns and fifth in receiving yards per game.
"It comes from studying film and reading defenses and knowing where the open areas are," Mihalik said. "He is a precise route-runner. Get the ball anywhere near him and he'll catch it.
"After he makes the catch, he's going to get additional yards. He enjoys playing the game and he's a student of the game."
Schademan currently stands 10th in the SRU career rankings in receiving touchdowns (11), 11th in pass receiving yards (1,429) and 13th in total receptions (82). He needs six more touchdown catches to tie the school record for a season.
"I'm aware of all that but I really don't pay attention to that stuff," Schademan said. "It really doesn't mean that much to me. I don't care if I don't catch another pass the rest of the year as long as we're winning games and our offense is doing what we need to do.
"I love playing in this offense. There's not much thinking that should go into playing ... you get the call, you run the play. Our whole team watches a lot of film. Coach just calls the right plays and gets us into the right position. It seems like he's always calling the right plays that's why our offense has been so successful."
Schademan and his Rock teammates will be watching a lot of film on this week's opponent. Slippery Rock welcomes rival IUP (5-0, 2-0) to Mihalik-Thompson Stadium Saturday for a PSAC West showdown. Kickoff against the No. 7-ranked Crimson Hawks is 2 p.m.
Rick Davis: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-3789. First Published October 9, 2013 8:00 PM