OLD SAYBROOK >> Luke Schoonmaker has played quarterback for most of his high school career, which included a stop at Xavier and an undefeated campaign at Hamden Hall last fall.
But at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, with off-the-charts speed and athleticism, he concluded his ticket to major college football would be at tight end. Several of the top programs in the country agreed.
On Tuesday night Schoonmaker, an Old Saybrook resident, accepted a full scholarship offer to Michigan.
— Luke Schoonmaker (@LukeSchoonmaker) July 26, 2017
“Coach (Jim) Harbaugh stresses faith, family and football,” Schoonmaker said on Wednesday. “I took that to heart. That was really what I wanted to hear. I believe in all three of those, what he stands for and how he leads his team.”
The deal with Michigan came together rather quickly. It began on May 1 when Hamden Hall coach Joe Linta sent a text message to an old colleague, Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown.
The pair worked together on Carm Cozza’s staff at Yale in the 1980s. Linta has since become an NFL agent, using his coaching experience to carve out a niche finding hidden gems at smaller schools and preparing them for the NFL draft. His client list includes Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, 49ers fullback Kyle Juszcyk and Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate.
Schoonmaker was Hamden Hall’s starting quarterback last season. But given his size, speed and athleticism, Linta believes he has unlimited potential at tight end.
“Given his speed at 230 pounds, he’s got to be one of the top five kids in the country at his position,” Linta said. “His 40 time — he also broad jumped 10-foot-2 — would’ve gotten him a lot of attention at the NFL Combine.”
Michigan liked what they saw on film, and later scouted Schoonmaker at its satellite camp at Sacred Heart in June. Last week, Schoonmaker made an official visit to the Ann Arbor campus.
Nearly 20 other programs made scholarship offers, according to Linta, including Pittsburgh, Iowa, UCLA and Boston College. But Schoonmaker decided on Michigan days after meeting with Harbaugh.
“The other schools we were looking at were all great opportunities,” Schoonmaker said. “But we thought Michigan would be the best opportunity.”
Schoonmaker originally attended Xavier before transferring to Hamden Hall last summer. He played mostly quarterback, with some time at fullback, on an undefeated team ranked No.1 in New England in their division.
Linta said Schoonmaker will play tight end this fall. He may also see time at cornerback, a testament to his athleticism and speed.
Michigan continues to draw some of the state’s top talent. Hamden’s Tarik Black, a receiver at Cheshire Academy, Newtown’s Ben Mason and Darien’s Andrew Stueber will be part of the Wolverines’ freshman class this fall.
Transitioning to a new position for a national championship contender is something Schoonmaker looks forward to.
“Me being a hard worker, I really welcomed it and put my best foot forward,” Schoonmaker said. “I’m ready for the challenge.”