Twists, turns and lacrosse sticks: Schramm’s journey to CSU

Rocco Schramm
George Schramm played football at CSU in the mid-1990s.
George Schramm played football at CSU in the mid-1990s.

Growing up in a house decorated with framed Colorado State University football jerseys, it appeared like a natural plan for Rocco Schramm to play football at his father’s alma mater. It wasn’t.

Schramm and his father, George, will celebrate their first Homecoming game together this weekend. They are one of two pairs of current father-and-son Rams, along with John and Jack Howell.

“Everything now is extra special,” said George, who played in back-to-back Holiday Bowls in the mid-1990s. “It adds a whole new element, of course.”

Rocco’s journey to CSU had detours because of lacrosse, COVID-19 and turning down a scholarship from Colgate.

“I started (lacrosse) when I was 4 years old,” said Rocco, a scout team linebacker and first-year preferred walk-on. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Concentrating on two sports

Rocco said there are similarities between the sports, and that he and his father both love legendary running back Jim Brown, who excelled at both sports. George also played both sports when he grew up. In football, Rocco played running back and linebacker. In lacrosse, he was mostly on defense.

“Instead of hitting people, you get to use sticks to hit people with, which is fun,” he said. “It’s a different pace of game. Lacrosse is non-stop.”

George remembers the first time he asked Rocco to pick a favorite.

“When he was really little, I’d say sixth grade, we were out practicing lacrosse and I said, ‘Well, which one do you want to focus on?’ And he couldn’t answer me,” George said. “So I said we can focus on both football and lacrosse equally and you could get a scholarship in both football and lacrosse if you want.

“He kind of took it to heart. He didn’t see one as a secondary and one as a primary.”

Picking, then leaving lacrosse

Rocco excelled at both sports growing up and was an Under Armor All-American in lacrosse. When the pandemic shut down California high school football during his junior year, he concentrated on lacrosse. That led to a scholarship offer from Colgate, a prestigious East Coast university. Even so, he played football his senior year, and the pull of the gridiron was too much.

“Their staff was nothing but great to me, nothing but helpful,” Rocco said of Colgate, making decommitting even harder. “It was really tough. I felt bad. The coaches were nothing but great. I was nervous to tell them, but they were totally fine with it.”

“He made the tough call to decommit from that wonderful offer to a school like that with nothing, no options for football, so he rolled the dice,” George said, adding that the Colgate scholarship technically was still on the table when his son chose CSU.

“What it really came down to was I couldn’t see myself without football in my life,” Rocco said. “But I kind of could see myself without lacrosse.”

Rocco Schramm played lacrosse in high school.
Rocco Schramm playing football in high school.

Football recruiting

Rocco’s senior year tape drew some scholarship offers from schools that weren’t on his wish list. George, who had taken Rocco to a CSU football camp at Canvas Stadium, said the former coaching staff was not interested.

George made sure first-year CSU coach Jay Norvell and his staff saw his son’s senior highlight video. “As soon as (CSU) called,” Rocco said, “I was nothing but ecstatic.”

George said his friends in California give him a hard time.

“It’s kind of like a joke around town, like I’ve cloned myself,” he said, adding that Rocco played football at the same high school and wore the same number as he did. “I couldn’t have been happier. It’s kind of strange how it happened for him.”

Rocco, who is studying business administration and sports management, knew he would start at the bottom of the depth chart and have to work his way up. As a preferred walk-on, he could earn a scholarship, but nothing is guaranteed.

‘Fight and claw’

George said he tells his son about his former teammate Adrian Ross, a lightly recruited walk-on who climbed the depth chart and became a Rams starter. After going undrafted, Ross played six years in the National Football League for the Cincinnati Bengals.

“He’s going to fight and claw, and if it takes three or four years, that’s OK,” George said.

Rocco already made an impression on the coaching staff before CSU’s first home game against Middle Tennessee State.

“At a team meeting, Norvell said Rocco’s been going hard since Day 1,” George said. “And that he was going to dress, carry the American flag and lead the team out. It was huge for us to see him do that.”

George said he hasn’t taken Rocco to a Homecoming at CSU because his son played football on Friday nights and had film sessions on Saturdays.

Rocco knows this year will be different.

“They are 100% going to be out here,” Rocco said of his father, mother and sister. “As soon as I started talking to the staff about potentially coming here when I was in high school, (my parents) immediately started booking tickets and everything. They’re pumped.”