BY Doug Farrar 05:21PM 02/15/2011

Stephen Schilling: From Bellevue to the big time

The former Eastside star takes timeout from prepping for the NFL draft to talk to SPNW

Stephen Schilling started at Bellevue, then went to Michigan. As part of prepping for the NFL Draft, he was at the Senior Bowl / Doug Farrar, Sportspress Northwest

From 2002-2005, Stephen Schilling starred at left tackle for the dominant Bellevue High football team. He hadn’t played football before his high school years, but several colleges came calling soon enough, and Schilling chose the great football (and offensive line) tradition at Michigan. Currently graded by most draft experts as a second- to fourth-round pick (though many rankings change through the pre-draft process), Schilling recently spoke with Sportspress Northwest about his journey to the NFL.

You were born and raised on the Eastside?

Yep – born and raised in Bellevue – same house all my life.

What was it like working with head coach Butch Goncharoff at Bellevue High? And to what would you attribute the program’s great success?

It was great working with Butch; he was one of the best coaches I’ve ever played for. I started playing football in high school, so he was one of the first coaches I ever knew. He was so great with all of us kids, teaching us how act the right way and not only grow as players, but as men, too. I think the success for Bellevue comes from … well, as Butch would say, they have the Junior Program, and kids playing football together from the time they’re five, six, seven years old, all the way up though middle school and to Bellevue. So, that’s how they turn out players year after year.

You were obviously heavily awarded coming out of high school – what was that experience like, and when did you first suspect that this might be your future?

As far as my future, it kind of went in steps, really – I had some success playing football my first couple years of high school, and when I got my first college offer, I realized that I would have the opportunity to play there, which was pretty crazy. And when I got to Michigan, I was able to start after my first year and if I stayed healthy, played well, I might have a chance to play at the next level. Everywhere I’ve been, it’s gone well so far.

(The PARADE All-American award and the other awards) were pretty exciting, though I don’t really like to get caught up in all that stuff.

What led you to Michigan, and how many other schools were recruiting you?

There ended up being quite a few, and I tried to get my list pared down pretty quickly for my senior year. I had it down to Michigan, Cal, USC, and Washington, and it came down to the fact that for me, Michigan had the best combination of athletics and academics. I had a good relationship with the coaches. I kind of wanted to get away and try something new. I was very familiar with the Pac-10 in Washington, and I wanted to grow up on my own at a different college.

My major was general studies, and I graduated last December.

Your 2006 season was marked by an illness that caused you to lose 20 pounds – what happened and what did you learn about yourself going through that?

Yeah, I got mono during camp. I was sick for four weeks, and then, they always want you not to do anything for as long as you were sick afterward, so I was out a few months.

Like I said, I wanted to get away and grow up on my own, and I was on my own – I watched my first college game in my dorm room by myself when everyone else was down at the Big House (Michigan Stadium). I spent a lot of time by myself that first year, because they didn’t want me around any of the other players, so I wouldn’t get anyone else sick. So, I wanted to grow up on my own, and that gave me a shot real quick.

When you finally got to play in 2007, how did you find the college game to be different?

It’s so much faster – just everybody’s so much bigger, stronger, and faster. It’s kind of a cliché, but it’s true. In high school, we played the Wing-T – a very run-heavy offense. I had to balance it out a bit more and learned how to pass-protect.

You started at tackle at Michigan, but moved to guard. What about you is better-suited to that position?

I’m not the tallest guy – your prototypical tackles in the NFL are taller, and there’s nothing I could really do about that! (laughs) Being able to be inside was a move that was made – my college coaches thought that it would be best for my future, and it’s pretty much where I would have been switched in the NFL anyway, so it’s good that I got that in college.

The Rich Rodriguez era was tumultuous, to say the least – what was it like for you? What was he like day-to-day as a coach?

Things obviously didn’t go the way we wanted, but I think coach Rodriguez is a great coach. It was a tough transition going from coach (Lloyd) Carr to coach Rodriguez; very different in style and the way they coached. Coach Rodriguez had success in a lot of other places, but we didn’t really get it on track in the last three years, but on a daily basis, I enjoyed my time there and I didn’t ever regret being at Michigan.

Who was the best player you went up against in college?

It’s tough to say, but in my freshman year, I went up against Vernon Gholston from Ohio State, and he was a tough player. Going up against Florida’s Derrick Harvey in our bowl game was a good experience for me. And me being a freshman probably amplified their skills a little, too!

What was your Senior Bowl experience like?

I had a lot of fun; it was a great experience. It was kind of tiring in that you have all the practices and then you’re meeting with teams and what not, but it’s a fun thing and it’s the first step in this whole draft process. Getting to play with all those other great guys I would see throughout the years, and getting to play (college) football one last time.

You’ve been working with former 49ers, Raiders, and Chargers center/guard Jeremy Newberry in your draft prep training – what has he done for you?

Well, he played center in the league, and that’s something that I want to work on and be able to do when I get to the NFL, so he’s been coming down here to Athletes Performance in Arizona where I train and working with me on that. Also, he played 10 years in the league and he’s seen it all, so he’s kind of a mentor to me – someone where, if I have a question on anything, he can help me out. .

Obviously, the Michigan tradition of offensive linemen is substantial – we remember a guy by the name of Steve Hutchinson around here. Who influenced and inspired you while you were there?

When I first got to college, my line coach Andy Moeller – who’s now with the Baltimore Ravens – taught me the college game, which was very different. And then, looking up to a guy like (former Michigan and current Miami Dolphins left tackle) Jake Long; somebody who obviously had a lot of success. I thought that if I could follow in his footsteps and do what he was doing, I would be all right.


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  • Jeff in Baton Rouge

    Wait he went to Mich over UW to get away (which I get) and Academics? Graduating with degree in general studies (translation still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up). Really?

  • Dave

    Yes, a general studies degree from Michigan — any degree from Michigan — is better than a degree from Washington.

    As for schools in the SEC, those aren’t even real universities. You might as well get an online degree. You’ll know just as much.

  • DB

    Any degree from Michigan is better than any degree from UW? LOL! UW has the largest private endowment of any public University in the US, top five programs in the country in aeronautics, chemical engineering, medical technology, and half the MD programs. What does Michigan have? General studies and a large supply of Ann Arbor rag weed, apparently. Schilling is probably the first person to willingly move from Washington to Michigan in a long, long time.
    Good luck to him though.