Karter Schult’s NFL career has been an interesting one.
Whether it was time spent on an NFL roster in the preseason, or the AAF (Alliance of American Football), Schult’s play has shone through.
The University of Northern Iowa graduate posted 35.5 career sacks in his four years as a Panter, 31 of course which came in his junior and senior seasons.
After college, Schult would go undrafted and get his first shot with the Browns in 2017. Schult would play in all four preseason games for Cleveland, and record 1.5 sacks in the finale matchup against the Bears.
That’s when things got interesting.
Following spending time with the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers, Schult went on to play in the AAF, and did what he did at UNI. Dominated.
Schult recorded seven sacks in eight contests, and signed with the Minnesota Vikings on in April of 2019, and has since stood out in his play throughout the preseason, so far recording five tackles in three games.
“It’s been a crazy ride,” Schult said in a phone interview. “The last few years of my NFL career have been a little hectic in terms of my football journey. Since I came into the league as a rookie, I’ve become a completely different person and player. The AAF gave me a chance to showcase myself, and it also helped me to develop my skills and experience.”
Schult,25, hasn’t recorded a sack for the Vikings yet but has continued to bring constant pressure while being a force in the run game.
“I felt like I got better in the second preseason game,” Schult said. “I feel like I’ve continued to get better from game to game and I will continue to get better.”
Paxton Lynch was one of the quarterbacks to feel the pressure when Schult brought him down for a loss of four by reacting perfectly to a read-option play. Schult went on to make multiple plays in the run game in the third preseason game against the Seahawks.
Schult’s work ethic and motor might remind Vikings fans of another pass rusher by the name of Jared Allen. Allen was on another level in terms of being a whole pass-rush specialist, but it’s hard to deny Schult’s determination.
“Guys like him (Jaren Allen) and I have to be hard workers,” Schult said. “I have to continue to work hard and have a high motor. That’s one of the things that you want to have as a positive on your resume.”
In a Mike Zimmer defense, defensive ends are asked to do a lot more than rush the quarterback. Zimmer has his ends drop back into coverage on occasion, something that Schult seemed to prove he can do by making an open-field tackle on Arizona Cardinals running back D.J. Foster in the third preseason game.
“Defensive ends are expected to do a lot,” Schult said. “We’re expected to rush the passer, stop the run, and some cases drop into coverage. I knew that the ball was going to the running back, and I did my best to chase him down. I was happy with how I closed the play.”
Being behind players like Danielle Hunter, and Everson Griffen, Schult has had his work cut out for him. That hasn’t stopped him from learning behind the duo that has combined for 77 sacks since Hunter came into the league in 2015.
“Being behind Danielle and Everson is an incredible learning opportunity,” Schult said. “Whether they’re helping me work on my craft or I watch them work, it’s invaluable to be able to learn from them. They’re Pro Bowl-caliber defensive lineman, and they’ve taught a lot about rushing in the NFL.”
Yes, being a defensive end in Mike Zimmer’s defense is implicated, but the little things continue to be of the utmost importance.
“In a complex defense, being able to learn from Coach Zimmer, coach Patterson, and all the other coaches have helped me in developing my game,” Schult said. “I’m glad that I’ve got to experience it so far. The level that they expect you to be at has raised my level of performance.”
The preseason process can show an effect on young and veteran players. It’s grueling in some cases, and a harsh business. There are no guarantees, and often no second chances, but Schult has learned to control what he can control.
“I take it day by day,” Schult said. “This is a long process, and I told myself that I want to be the best version of myself every day. I want to put my best foot forward, and let the cards fall where they may. I feel like I’ve continued to get better and better every day. I’m looking to finish strong in this last preseason game.”