Tanner Schnelle will have the chance to tackle some of the best high school football players in the country.
The senior linebacker from Aurora received an invitation to play in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl Dec. 20 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. Schnelle was selected from a group of linebackers who took part in a Blue-Grey combine event in Arlington in June.
“It was pretty exciting. It was really surprising,” Schnelle said. “There are about 7,000 guys that had gone through it all, and the final selection came down to 90 people for the East and West teams.”
The invitation comes with the chance for Schnelle to receive instruction from NFL coaches. As part of the experience, Blue-Grey players attend meetings to learn about life in college football.
Schnelle made 80 solo tackles and 40 assists in his junior season at Aurora. He aspires to play college football at the NCAA Division II level or higher.
At the summer combine, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Schnelle ran the 40-yard dash in 4.71 seconds. He also went through bench press, shuttle run and broad jump tests. Then he and the rest of the combine attendees went through a practice with professional coaches.
“From the second we got onto the field, they were on us. The stretches and everything were really high-intensity,” Schnelle said.
More than a month later, Schnelle received a letter containing his invitation to play in the December all-star game.
In the nearer future, the Aurora Houn’ Dawgs open the season Aug. 21 at Cassville. Schnelle is optimistic about Aurora’s chances to improve from going 6-5 a season ago.
“We have a better chance than we have had in the past for sure because on the offensive side of the ball we have nine starters returning,” Schnelle said. “We have like 10 (returning starters) on defense.”
This year marks Aurora’s first under coach Kale Kilgo, a former Ozark assistant coach who took over at Aurora following the sudden departure of coach Rick Scholten.
“Whenever (Kilgo) came in after coach Scholten left, we were all scared about what was going to happen to the program,” Schnelle said, and then added that Kilgo quickly won his team’s respect in practice.
“We really like him,” Schnelle said of Kilgo.
In addition to football, Schnelle is an honor student and is active in Aurora’s Future Farmers of America chapter. He was part of a team that won a state championship in equine judging.
In January, Schnelle will go to Denver to compete in a national livestock judging event.