BLOOMINGTON — Joe Schneider wants to help take care of the sick after graduating.
Right now, the Illinois Wesleyan senior defensive lineman is more interested in putting the hurt on other teams.
Schneider, who is a nursing major, is enjoying a standout final season with the unbeaten and 22nd-ranked Titans. He ranks third in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin with three sacks heading into Saturday’s 6 p.m. game against Carthage in Kenosha, Wis.
IWU (5-0, 2-0 CCIW) leads the league with 17 sacks, paced by John Worley’s eight.
“We’re kind of a light D-line this year, so we’re pretty quick,” said Schneider, who shifts between tackle and end. “We have pretty good footwork. We work on footwork every day and using our hands. We have good chemistry and just work really well together.”
The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Schneider doesn’t exactly fit the stereotype of a nurse. Yet he said it was easy for pick to choose that field.
“My mom (Deb) wanted to be a nurse,” said Schneider. “She went to nursing school and dropped out. She said it was her biggest regret because she could be doing so much with a nursing degree. You can do a lot of things in the medical field with a nursing degree. I’ve always wanted to be in the medical field, and I feel like nursing is a perfect fit for me.”
IWU coach Norm Eash said many schools shied away from recruiting Schneider out of Sandburg High School in Orland Park because of the demands between practice time and clinical work.
Eash convinced Schneider it could be done at IWU.
“Our nursing department does a great job of working with our student-athletes. We’ve never had a problem,” said Eash. “They make it such that you can make practices.”
Schneider was a linebacker at Sandburg and not too excited about playing with his hand down on the line in college. Eash eased Schneider’s concerns by showing him “the scheme here is something” he would like.
However, Eash said it took Schneider a while “to buy into” defensive line coach Joe Rodgers’ approach.
“Sometimes the way I did it was a different way than he was teaching,” said Schneider. “Once I accepted the teaching, I feel it really transformed my play.”
Jones leading nation: IWU’s Devonte Jones ranks No. 1 in the nation in kickoff returns for Division III. The senior has returned 10 kickoffs for a 43.7-yard average, nearly breaking three for touchdowns.
Right behind is Dallas Parent of La Verne (Calif.) with a 43.3 average.
Jones also leads the CCIW in rushing with 664 yards. Teammate T.J. Stinde is seventh with 283 yards as the Titans are No. 2 in the league with 231.0 yards per game, only 4.6 yards behind North Central.
Klein ready to play: Junior middle linebacker Connor Klein was cleared to play last Saturday after suffering a concussion against Millikin the week before. However, IWU decided to hold Klein out of a 52-21 homecoming victory against North Park.
Klein will start against Carthage (1-4, 0-2). The Red Men suffered a 22-20 loss to North Park two weeks ago that broke the Vikings’ 89-game CCIW losing streak that dated back to 2000 before losing to Wheaton, 28-0, last Saturday.