For former River Ridge High standout Joe Schoepf, the 2012 season at Greenville College in Illinois was one of promise and disappointment.
After his freshman season in 2011, where Schoepf started one game for the Panthers, he entered 2012 as the starter at left guard. After starting three games, Schoepf suffered a high ankle sprain. It was a frustrating setback for Schoepf. He was able to return the final four games at left guard and right tackle. Schoepf's versatility was vital for Greenville, and he helped lead the Panthers to an 8-2 record, including a bowl victory over Northwestern (Roseville, Minn.) in the National Christian Colleges Athletic Association Victory Bowl.
Having versatility on the offensive line is something Schoepf takes pride in. Being able to shuffle at guard and tackle, when needed, is not easy. There are differences between the two positions.
"In our offense, being a guard is about being explosive off the line," Schoepf said. "We do a lot of zone blocking in our running game, so it's about firing off the ball and taking on the guy over you. It's a physically demanding position. You have to be quick and reactive whether it's run or pass."
At 6-foot-4, 295 pounds, Schoepf has ideal size to play offensive tackle, but that position requires a different skill set than guard.
"At tackle, you not only have to be quick, but you have to be laterally quick," Schoepf said. "You can't let an outside pass rusher cross your face. You have to be very agile but also very patient."
Being an upperclassman this season, Schoepf hopes to provide leadership to the younger players. Greenville will also have a new coach. Schoepf will have a new position coach, so he'll be proving himself again, including joining in "The Terminator Club" at Greenville, which is for student athletes graded on a point system based on performance, grades, attendance and attitude.
Nevertheless, Schoepf is up for the challenge.
"Some of the coaches have told me it's time for me to step up and be a leader," Schoepf said. "I made the top 11 of the Terminator club. I feel like being given that honor that I need to represent myself positively and be a leader. I think my work ethic and attitude is something that can help me lead."
Correspondent Steve Campbell can be reached at SteveCampbell@ionmedia.com or follow him on Twitter @SCPascoTrib