Schwieger ’12 looks for career options after release by Rams
By Jasmine Sachar
Published on Thursday, September 20, 2012
After enduring weeks of summer practice and preseason play, Nick Schwieger ’12, was one of three running backs cut from the St. Louis Rams roster in late August. Schwieger signed with the Rams earlier in the year as an undrafted free agent, making it through rookie camps in the spring and summer and about five weeks of practice and preseason play. The 5’10”, 210-pound running back was released from the team following the Rams’ third preseason game against the Cowboys.
“There certainly is a certain element of size and speed at that level that doesn’t compare to the Ivy League, but the reason it was so disappointing is because I actually thought I could have played at that level if given the chance,” Schwieger said. “I’m not saying I would have been some star running back, but I think I could have contributed on special teams.”
Schwieger began starting for the Big Green during his sophomore year. In his junior year, he won the Bushnell Cup, given to the Ivy League’s Most Valuable Player. During his senior year, Schwieger became Dartmouth’s all-time leading rusher, having accumulated 3,150 yards on the ground.
After signing with the Rams in late April, Schwieger headed off to a four-day rookie mini-camp in Missouri. He survived the first round of cuts and received an official contract from the team. Schwieger was then asked to return in June for another camp, where he performed community service projects with the team and had a chance to explore St. Louis. After five weeks off, the players were asked to report back to training camp on July 26.
At Rams training camp, it was a totally different atmosphere, Schwieger said. Practice ran from 6 a.m. to 9 or sometimes 10 p.m. every day. Schwieger was one of six running backs on the roster. The starter, Steven Jackson, was already a three-time pro-bowler in the NFL. Two other running backs — Isiah Pead and Daryl Richardson — were draft picks. Chase Reynolds and Calvin Middleton, alongside Schwieger, were undrafted.
“It was totally different demographics, something I had never been exposed to before, and it was life-changing just to be around so many guys, learn their stories and how they came up from nothing,” Schwieger said. “This was their one opportunity to prove themselves.”
Due to a renegotiated collective bargaining agreement, the Rams could have up to 90 players on the roster fighting for a total of 56 spots by the start of the regular season. Two-a-day practices were also eliminated, so with only one practice per day, Schwieger said it was tough to get enough reps to prove himself.
“Nobody really knew what to expect with this CBA, how it was all going to work and how the reps were going to work,” Schwieger said. “I thought that I was at least going to get a fair shot, a chance to prove myself. The Rams would probably argue that they did give me that shot. I could have at least gotten a carry or two.”
Schwieger said he played in two out of three preseason games and in eight to 10 total plays.
“I just feel like that wasn’t a real good evaluation,” Schwieger said.
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher cut Schwieger on Aug. 26, one day after a preseason game against the Cowboys. Fisher thanked him for playing with the team and apologized that it didn’t work out. Before leaving, Schwieger voiced his concerns about not getting a fair evaluation.
“At this point, it was good to know where I stood,” Schwieger said. “It was a bittersweet moment. You’re really anxious throughout the entire process because it’s so highly competitive. You don’t really know where you stand because these reps are so limited. In a way it was just nice to know, at least I’m going home.”
Schwieger’s best friend, J.B. Andreassi ’12, who was a defensive back for the Big Green, said that Schwieger is the best college football player he has ever watched up close.
“It seems like from the start, he was written off a little bit because he’s undersized,” Andreassi said. “He’s an Ivy League guy, which in any situation is going to make it very difficult to make the team and make an impact.”
Players coming out of the Ivy League, which is part of the College Football Championship Subdivision, often have a disadvantage compared to players coming out of major programs in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
“The conference that we play for four years is not even close to what these guys that are Division I-A go up against,” Andreassi said. “Those guys have four years experience going against the best, and with the Ivy League ... we just don’t have the physicality or the size or speed to compete in the NFL. Nick was a special case, where he was so good and he dominated this league for three or four years, that if there was anyone who could’ve done it, it was him.”
Schwieger isn’t sure what his future plans are, but right now he is looking for a job at a financial planning firm in Boston. He has also been offered opportunities to play football in Canada and France, and he isn’t sure if he will want to try for the NFL again next year.
“At this point, it’s more likely that I will move on into the real world,” Schwieger said. “It’s unlikely at this point, but it could still happen.”
Christopher Wilkerson, who coaches running backs for the Big Green, continues to talk to Schwieger on a weekly basis and said that he had a great college career.
“We have more and more players in our program who would love the opportunity to continue to play in the NFL if they’re so blessed,” Wilkerson said. “But if things don’t work out, they always know they are going to have that Dartmouth education to fall back on.”