A ‘Bo knows’ T-shirt in reference, of course, to former NFL great Bo Jackson that Ozark’s Max Schilling has sported this summer brings a quick smile to Tigers coach Chad Depee.
“The coaches like it,” Schilling said of his shirt. “People ask me where I got the shirt. I got it off Amazon and I do know who Bo Jackson is. I loved the way he played. He was a freak of nature.”
Schilling’s shirt isn’t the only reason he has endeared himself to Depee. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound senior has also gained his coach’s approval by the work ethic he’s consistently brought to Ozark’s weight room over the spring and summer months.
Schilling figures to play a telling role for the Tigers as a feature fullback on offense and an end on defense.
“He’s worked his tail off," Depee said. "The off-season has been good to him. He’s gotten bigger and stronger.”
Schilling hasn’t lacked for motivation, knowing his workload will likely double on offense compared to a year ago and also that he would be making the transition from linebacker to defensive end.
“I’ve been lifting every day in the morning and the evening, too,” Schilling said. “I started lifting after wrestling season ended. I took it very seriously. I can definitely feel a difference. I feel stronger and faster, too. It’s going to be harder to take me down.”
Schilling gained valuable experience while splitting time at fullback with starter Ethan Sandoval last year.
“He got quality reps,” Depee said. “Schilling and Sandoval ended up going back and forth for us at fullback. We’re excited for his senior year and having him take charge.”
Schilling values lessons he leaned from Sandoval, now playing college ball at Quincy (Illinois).
“Ethan doesn’t say a lot. But I learned from him,” Schilling said.
Playing along Ozark’s defense line will be a whole new ball game for Schilling, who had been a lifetime linebacker.
“It’s a lot different,“ he said. “I don’t have to think as much playing on the D-line. You just go after (the ball-carrier) pretty much. That fits my personality pretty good and makes it a lot of fun.”
At only 5-9, Schilling doesn’t fit the tall and lanky prototype coaches typically try to line up at defensive end. He’s optimistic he can still thrive and penetrate into opposing offensive backfields.
“Being shorter, that might make it harder for me sometimes,” Schilling said. “But it also might make it easier sometimes for me because I can get lower and under people.”