@GeoffSchwartz76 on Twitter
by: Duke Manyweather
This week Beyondthecombine.com caught up with Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz. Schwartz enters his 5th year in the NFL and is looking for a bounce back year after missing the entire 2011 season due to hip surgery. Schwartz was a mainstay for the University of Oregon‘s offensive line from 2004-2007, before being drafted in the 7th round by the Carolina Panthers in 2008. Schwartz went on to start 19 games (played every snap) for Carolina at both right guard and right tackle. He quickly became a fan favorite while doing so. After the 2010 season, Pro Football Focus named Schwartz a secret superstar.
BTC: You missed all of the 2011 season, explain the injury that kept you sidelined
Geoff: I had a hip impingement (a bone spur in my femur that tears the hip cartilage) in my right hip that flared up in the first week of camp. It didn’t get better through rehab so I had season ending surgery in September. As that hip was healing, my other side acted up so we went ahead and got that fixed in late December.
BTC: That sounds painful, How are you now? You all ready for Vikings Camp?
Geoff: I’m 100% now and ready to roll in Mankato (site of our training camp). I love playing football and being out last season was rough. After starting 19 consecutive games I was hitting my stride as a player. This was an injury that I had no way to prevent. I spent the last 11 months working myself back into shape and strengthening my hips. I’m in the best shape of my life. In the long run this injury was a blessing in disguise because now I have gained extra mobility, flexibility and explosion with my hips fixed. And once fixed, the condition won’t come back. So yes I’m super excited for camp to start.
BTC: With the addition of Cam Newton and other young players, the Panthers were an exciting team to watch last season… As I can imagine, it had to have been tough watching your teammates play every week… Explain some of the emotion that you experienced with dealing with the injury and not being able to be apart of something you were previously vested in.
Geoff: One of the best parts of my job is the camaraderie between teammates. When you’re injured, it feels as though you aren’t a part of the team. I did all my rehab during meeting times and then was home by the time practice started. I didn’t travel on the trips or even go to the hotel for home games. During the games I sat in the press box because I wasn’t able to walk around on the field. I was totally removed from the team and barely saw my friends. It can be lonely during this time and it got worse on game day. After a big win, I’d go into the locker room and see everyone celebrating and while I was happy we won, I knew I had no part in that victory. As a competitor this really got to me. I used it as fuel to get me through my rehab, knowing when I got healthy I can enjoy that feeling again.
BTC: After the 2011 season ended, the business side kicks in. At what point did you get the hint that you would not be back in a Panther uniform? What were some things that you took away from this experience?
Geoff: I found out during the combine in February that I wasn’t going to be tendered. At first I was disappointed but I got over that fast. It’s a business and if they didn’t want me, I’d find a team that did. And that’s exactly what happened. I had a few teams call as soon as the free agency period started and I ended up signing with the Vikings. I’m excited to be with the Vikings and look forward to helping them win more games.
BTC: With Carolina not tendering you, did you leave a little chip on your shoulder to carry in to your treatment and training in preparation for the 2012 season?
Geoff: Yes I did for sure. You never want to feel that someone doesn’t want you, whether it’s in your business or personal life.
Geoff: It was a tough decision but I believe I choose wisely. I had two criteria. First off I wanted to find a team where I could start. Second, I wanted a team that fit my style of play. Minnesota fit both. There is an open guard spot here. The Vikings run the ball, which I love. The icing on the cake was that my OC in Carolina, Jeff Davidson, would be me OL coach here in Minnesota.
BTC: What dimension of your skill set do you believe will help you succeed in the Vikings offense!
Geoff: Besides the physical tools that I possess, I think my intelligence, knowledge of the game and ability to anticipate on the field are skill sets that get overlooked but help me immensely in any system. Studying extra film and learning the ins and outs of defenses give me an edge.
BTC: There are a few strong veteran personalities in the Vikings locker room… What do you bring and how do you fit in to a Vikings locker room that already has some strong out-going personalities?
Geoff: I fit in well with the current group of players. I’m not an outspoken leader type but instead lead by being a hard-worker who has a passion for the game . . . and that shows on the field. We do have a young team. Going into my fifth year I’m now more of the vet who can share with the younger guys. I know that we all care about winning and doing whatever that takes. We are going to surprise some people this season!
BTC: You were a fan favorite in Carolina, Im sure the Vikings fans will love you… What has your experience been like with the Viking faithful?
Geoff: The Viking faithful have been unbelievable. They are extremely supportive of the team and I’m looking forward to playing in the Dome this year. I heard that place gets rocking!
BTC: Your younger brother, Mitchell, was drafted 37th overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 2012 draft, what advice did you have for him going into the evaluation process and as he entered rookie camp?
Geoff: Being that I have gone through the process I was able to help him mentally prepare for the grind of the evaluation process and for the upcoming season. The process is not so much physical as it is mental. He’s an extremely bright and sharp kid so most of the time he can figure it out on his own. If he ever has a question he knows I’m just a call or text away.
BTC: Seems like just yesterday you were reporting to your first NFL camp with the Carolina Panthers in 2008 … fast forward 5 years, new place, new colors, new team. What will it be like reporting to camp with the Vikings?
Geoff: Like I stated above, I can’t wait to get back on the field. I’m glad I ended up in Minnesota with a great fan base, coaching staff and some awesome teammates.
BTC: There a ton of memories and moments that are defining during a course of a career (example: Your 3 yard run vs USC at Autzen Stadium in 2007). What is your favorite moment of your professional career thus far?
Geoff: Two moments, both from the same year. My first professional start was actually against the Vikings on Sunday Night Football. I had all day to sit around and wait for the game. The anticipation was brutal but the game went well. We had a big win and I played well. That same year we had two running backs rush for over 1100 yards for the first time in NFL history. While I only started the final 3 games that season, (including when J Stewart rushed for 206 yards vs NYG) it was cool to be part of that line that helped achieve that milestone.
BTC: Last question…You do some cooking in your spare time.You have even been on a few cooking shows when you were in Carolina… What can’t you cook that you would like to add to your personal menu?
Geoff: I like to smoke ribs and other meats but I’m not the greatest at it. I’d love to get a big custom smoker and really learn how to do it properly
Geoff thanks for your time. We will catch up with you soon. Good luck this season!