2008 Moniteau Graduate Brice Schwab made his NFL debut Aug. 9 in a preseason game for the New England Patriots. Former Moniteau player and volunteer assistant coach Rob Flick describes what it was like seeing Schwab play
By Rob Flick
This is big. I mean that in every sense of the word. The New England Patriots official web site lists Brice Schwab at 6’7” and 302 pounds, but in the rural communities surrounding Moniteau High School, he somehow manages to be an even larger figure. Schwab, a 2008 graduate, is the first alum in the school’s history to reach football’s most elite level of competition.
I graduated from Moniteau in 2004. My parents were both graduates from Moniteau, and my family has lived in the community since before Moniteau High School was built. In spite of many very successful alums in the school’s history, I was hard pressed to think of any reaching the level of notoriety on par with a professional football player in the NFL. In playing in the pre-season opener for the Patriots, Brice has become the most famous Moniteau graduate in the history of the school. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone within the district’s boarders who isn’t familiar with his story.
While I was attending Allegheny College, I volunteered what time I could assisting the Moniteau coaching staff. It was here that I came to know Brice, already an enormous young man at a young age. He was a decent worker with good character and a very likeable and coachable individual. What set him aside from his peers was of course his God-given size and ability. I’ve not experienced such natural ability prior to or since at Moniteau. When his career came to a close, I decided to keep track of his future progress, to see how far he could take it.
Coming from a program that doesn’t regularly produce the type of talent necessary to garner Division I scholarships, Brice had to begin his career at Palomar, a junior college in Southern California. There he was able to excel, becoming one of the nation’s top junior college prospects. Brice had multiple scholarship offers available, originally committing to the University of Southern California. However, with the departure of then head coach Pete Carroll, Schwab instead decided to enlist at Arizona State University.
Many members of the community (including myself) anxiously awaited any national broadcasts of ASU games to see the West Sunbury native in action. What we saw was a young man who had vastly improved upon his skill-set, but was struggling to adjust to the speed and athleticism at the highest level of college football. Brice was relegated to the bench part way through the season, much to the dismay of the Moniteau community.
Taking a red shirt the following season, something seemed to awaken in Brice. That year he developed an incredible work ethic, dedicating himself completely to never having another season like the one he had just endured. For his senior season, a leaner, stronger Schwab emerged as the starting right tackle for the fast-paced Sun Devil offense lead by new head coach Todd Graham. Brice and the offense thrived most of the season, and achieved a decisive 62-28 victory over Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. The performance garnered Schwab national recognition as he was named to the USA Today 2012 college football all-bowl team.
Now as a rookie free agent in the National Football League, Brice’s work ethic continues to put him in a position to keep his football dream alive. Watching him play on Friday Aug. 9 for the first time in an NFL uniform, it was unbelievable how far he had come from his years at Moniteau High School. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “I worked with this kid on blocking 180 pound defensive ends from Karns City, and now he’s out there protecting Tim Tebow’s blind-side.”
Brice Schwab hasn’t lost touch with his small town roots, visiting frequently this past offseason. He has the full support of the community and continues to inspire members of the 2013 Warriors football team. One player stated via Twitter “You don’t understand how amazing I feel – I lifted weights with a pro.” In spite of some recent turmoil, it’s a success story like this that makes me glad to be a part of the Moniteau football alumni brotherhood.
About the author – Rob Flick played football for Moniteau in 2002 and 2003 and was a volunteer football coach at the school from 2004-2011.