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September 24, 2012A roller coaster by definition is an elevated railway constructed with sharp curves and steep inclines, and that is what some may also call Brice Schwab's college football career.
Schwab, Arizona State's starting senior right tackle, has definitely had his share of steep inclines and sharp turns over the course of his football career to this point.
Largely overlooked out of tiny West Sunbury, Penn., (population: 104), Schwab became the No. 9 overall junior college prospect in the nation and the No. 2 junior college offensive line recruit by Rivals.com at Palomar Community College in San Marcos, Calif., in the 2009 class.
After scoring dozens of scholarship offers, Schwab committed to USC but it didn't stick and he ended up signing with ASU, where on signing day then-coach Dennis Erickson called him potentially "one of the better players I've been around in a long time."
Schwab started his first four games at right tackle for the Sun Devils in 2010 before it became apparent he wasn't quite ready to make good on a lot of the praise he'd received to that point.
Schwab and his coaches eventually decided the best course would be to redshirt the 2011 season so that he could dedicate himself to getting into better shape and working on his technique.
"I think the biggest thing is the mental thing, you cannot get down on yourself and you have to focus on why you're here and what got you here," Schwab said. "And you kind of have to use that as motivation to go and do what the coaches say that you can't or what you're not allowed to do by redshirting you or benching you."
Since arriving at ASU, Schwab has lost approximately 50 pounds, down to around 300 from 350ish on his 6-foot-7 frame, and as a result increased his mobility as well as his endurance.
"It's important to be able to have really good stamina and be able to go harder during plays and not take plays off, and overall just being more physical," Schwab said.
Schwab's hard work in the last year, which included being the only player on the team to participate with two groups instead of one in the summer conditioning program, led to his starting spot at right tackle this season.
"The biggest thing I want him to do is to play to his potential," ASU coach Todd Graham said before the start of the season. "His confidence level needs to be high. He didn't have a lot of confidence, obviously, because he didn't play much last year.
"But I think he can be a dominant player for us. The guy has worked his tail off to to put himself into position. I think he's one of the best football players we have. I think he can be an All-Pac-12 performer, but he has to believe that. He has to play like that, prepare like that everyday and see himself like that. He's got all the tools to be a great offensive lineman."
Many assumed Schwab would never be anywhere near the player he was expected to be when he signed with ASU, but he's starting to show that he's at the very least a solid Pac-12 starting tackle.
"It's been a long time for me here at ASU and finally the work has paid off," Schwab said. "I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing learn from my mistakes, and keep doing what I've been doing."
Schwab's long reach is more of a weapon now that he's in better shape, and more able to help do his part to protect ASU's inexperienced quarterbacks and apply offensive line coach Bob Connelly's lessons.
"I think coach Connelly does a great job preparing us for our assignments," Schwab said. "And that kind of eases to pressure off of us because we are prepared for what we are supposed to do.
"There is a huge emphasis on the run game, so he wants us to be a lot more physical compared to last year. It's something I like and I think the offensive line as a whole likes, is the physicality of it."
Schwab has endured the sharp turns, the steep inclines, and the fast speeds, of his personal roller coaster ride, and started ASU's first four games at right tackle. Now he is simply staying focused on what is needed of him for his final season as a Sun Devil.
"It's important to just take pride in what you do and keep that going and that is what's going to pay off as far as getting yourself in shape, and just commit, commit to football and academics and great things will happen."
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