If there had to be a surprise pick from this USF football season, it would most likely be junior walk-on kicker Eric Schwartz, who went from being a fan to holding a starting position.
USF coach Jim Leavitt said to Schwartz this spring that there would be no room for him on the fall roster. But when starter Maikon Bonani was injured in an accident at Busch Gardens, Schwartz got his opportunity.
Schwartz is 8-of-12 this season, including a 50-yard field goal against No. 5 Cincinnati. The Oracle spoke with Schwartz about his rise to starting and a few off-the-field moments.
Oracle: What’s been your favorite moment as a Bull?
Eric Schwartz: When I hit that 50-yarder.
O: Who’s the biggest prankster or clown on the team?
ES: We’ve got a few of those. (Junior running back) Mike Ford is probably up there.
O: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen Leavitt do?
ES: He does a lot of crazy things — it depends. You just have to catch him in the right mood.
O: What’s the best stadium atmosphere you’ve played in?
ES: Well, you’ve got to like games in our stadium, but Florida State was nice, too.
O: What’s the longest kick you’ve ever made in your life?
ES: In my life? Sixty-five yards.
O: What do fans not know about kickers?
ES: Maybe that we hang out with the rest of the team as much as anyone else does. We’re really not the loners that some people think we are.
O: Do you have any pregame superstitions?
ES: Not really any superstitions — I just pray before every game.
O: What is the best single moment of a game at Raymond James Stadium?
ES: There are a few songs that we all like listening to during pregame warm-ups that get us pumped up.
O: What is your favorite meal?
ES: I like pretty much any Italian dish.
O: What was the first thing you thought of when Bonani got hurt?
ES: I thought it wasn’t true. I thought it was a prank. But once I knew it was true, I texted him even though I knew he wouldn’t get it because he was in the hospital.
O: Bonani’s injury has opened up a spot for you on the field. Is that bittersweet for you?
ES: It was. I talked to him for about an hour the first time I could after he got hurt. I just told him this isn’t the way I wanted to get on the team. He knows that.
O: What’s it been like seeing Bonani kick again in practice recently?
ES: I’m happy for him. We all wish each other the best and we all feel like whoever is kicking the best deserves to be out there.
O: Who is the best dancer on the team?
ES: There are quite a few people that belong on that list. Carlton Mitchell can dance. Ford is up there — again.
O: What’s your pre-kick routine?
ES: I just pick my spot and I make sure I get my angle and my plant foot ready. Then, I take my three steps back and two steps over.