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Left: Radford University

student Nick Schrank first attended George Mason and played middle linebacker until a torn ACL sidelined him in his freshman year.

*Photo Courtesy of Dan Griffin

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RU Senior Holds Tight To NFL Plan: Nick Schrank doesn't play college football, but he's worked hard trying to get scouts' attention and hopes to become the first Highlander to get drafted in the NFL. By Sean Kotz The Roanoke Times Special

“I had been basically walking around with my hands out, asking for something, but then...�

You can say "can't," "won't," "don't bother." You call him crazy, but 22-year-old Nick Schrank won't hear anything negative in that.

"But I just keep a positive attitude and try to use anything negative that is thrown at me." As he is quick to point out, adversity is nothing new to him, but it has also been a source of strength.

When he was 13, Schrank took a blow To him, every negative is just another log from a paint ball that left his right eye to fuel his fire as he attempts to do what permanently damaged. However, he overcame and had a successful high most people think is impossible. school career in Fauquier County. Against the odds, Schrank is trying to From there, he went to George Mason become the first player ever from and played middle linebacker until a torn Radford University to get drafted in the ACL sidelined him in his freshman year. NFL -- which began its annual selection process Thursday night in New York City. That would have been the end for most That would be quite a feat, since Radford athletes, especially since the next step in his life would take him away from college has only a football club, not an NCAA football. team. "You know, people are going to question my legitimacy," Schrank said.

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Lorem Ipsum Schrank fell in love with Susan Baird, a Radford student. Within three months, he had proposed, realizing that she was the one. "I was committed to her the moment I met her," said Schrank, whose wedding is planned for midSeptember. "I am not much for phone conversations. So my only choice was to move down." But Schrank also knew he had to find a way to play football again. With his time clock running out, Division I schools were unlikely to give him a chance as an unknown junior walk-on, so he joined the Radford football club. After the team's first game against Hargrave Military Academy, Hargrave coach Robert Prunty approached Schrank and offered to send out video highlights for him and stressed the value of being seen by scouts. "I had been basically walking around with my hands out asking for something, but then I said, 'You know, let's give the people something tangible, that they can see online,' " Schrank said. Bev Carruthers, Schrank's mother, was also starting to realize that getting an agent was unlikely. But her son was also still committed to making it to the NFL. "So we sat around the kitchen table," Carruthers said, "and I said, 'Alright buddy, here's your resources -- your brother, your sisters and me -- what are we going to do?' " From there, Carruthers became the de facto agent, making phone calls and contacting trainers.

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Issue | Date His brother, Steve Schrank, began shooting video and developing the media machine to get him the attention he needed.

available, sister Chelsea Carruthers, 17, drove from Culpepper to videotape two games -- in less than 24 hours in two states.

Carruthers said Steve Schrank is the silent partner.

"I remember it was rainy and cold that night," said Carruthers about

When the pair were very young, his family went through a divorce, but Schrank said the upside was that it brought the brothers closer together. "We are so close, we are practically twins," Schrank said. According to Steve Schrank, the two have always been able to rely on each other. In 2007, his proposal for the Redbull Flugtag competition was accepted. But with time running out, his Fantastic Four crew started bailing out, so he called his brother at the last minute.

LA

Promo

Santa Monica, CA Marc Levy, Michael Gleaton, Nick Schrank and Kappel LeRoy Clarke mada a video promoting Schrank as a candidate for the NFL, which began its annual selection process Thursday night in New York City.

"He hopped on a flight, paid for it himself, and flew into Tampa Bay the day before the competition, just to make sure I had the human torch to take the plunge with me," Schrank said.

the whirlwind trip to Asheville, N.C., and back to Radford, "but even then he kept playing and I kept recording the whole game."

Not surprisingly, Steve Schrank transferred to Radford in 2009 so the two could work together daily, and the efforts started paying off.

His other sister, 16-year-old Stephanie Carruthers, is the No. 1 supporter, according to family members.

In 2009, he was contacted by the Virginia Crimson Cardinals, Lynchburg's team in the North American Football League. Officials there were impressed by the videos they saw.

"Nick says the way I support him, I will get the front desk job," she said. Schrank's family is realistic about the obstacles, but by the same token, they believe that if anyone can do this, it is him.

After his first season with the Cardinals, he went to the league allstar game in Miami and won the East Coast MVP Award.

Keith Hagarty, Radford University public relations coordinator, is sold on Schrank, as well.

In the meantime, Schrank's mother and sisters were supporting him in every way possible.

"Nick has boundless energy and he is ready for anything," he said. "As much as people knock him down, he

Once, when Steve Schrank was not

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“…boundless energy and he is ready for anything.”

Issue | Date just gets back up." Against the odds, with the help of his family and friends, Schrank is getting lots of attention at nickschrank.com and has made himself as visible as possible to NFL scouts for this weekend's draft. But don't expect Schrank to be glued to the TV this weekend. Instead, he says he will be right where he always is -- in the gym, working out.

"…people are going to

question

my

legitimacy."

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RU Senior Holds Tight To NFL Plan