Kregg Schmidt hoped to use the Kansas East-West Shrine Bowl as an opportunity to get to know a couple of his soon-to-be Kansas University football teammates.
In particular, Schmidt -- a 6-foot-3, 260-pounder out of Garden City -- hoped to make his way into the East team's offensive backfield enough to become better acquainted with Jayhawk-to-be Zach Dyer.
But Dyer, a quarterback out of Olathe South, and Dijon Dillon, a defensive lineman from Free State, both declined the opportunity to play in the all-star football game that will be played Saturday at Wichita State's Cessna Stadium, leaving Schmidt as the lone KU scholarship signee in the showcase.
"I was looking forward to playing against them," Schmidt said by phone from the West team's camp in Hays. "I was really looking forward to playing against Dijon, and I kind of wanted to play against Zach, maybe get in a couple of shots before we become roommates next year."
Schmidt, who was recruited to play offensive line at KU, will line up on defense for the last time Saturday. Though he might play both ways for the West, most of his snaps likely will come on defense.
"It's fine with me," Schmidt said. "I like defense a lot. It's a lot of fun. This is my last chance to play defense, so I hope to make the most of it."
Dyer reluctantly declined to play. All three KU signees -- along with Bonner Springs lineman John Mallory, Claflin linebacker James Homolka and Fort Scott wide receiver Matt Bloomfield, preferred walk-ons who will play in Saturday's Shrine Bowl -- will report to Kansas on Sunday.
"I wanted to play," Dyer said, "but it's just too close to when we actually start. If I had a week off or something, I'd play in it. But it's in Wichita. I'd drive home that night, then turn around and go back to Lawrence. It was nice being chosen for it, but it's too close to the time I go to KU. Plus, I didn't want to get hurt."
Schmidt wasn't thrilled with the timing, either, but he decided to pack his bags anyway. He won't return to Garden City; sometime Sunday morning, he and his parents will leave Wichita for Lawrence.
"I thought about not playing," Schmidt said, "but it should help me out. It'll get me in better shape. And I'm getting to meet a lot of guys right where I'm at. There are a lot of guys in the same situation, guys getting ready to go off to college. And, it's for a good cause. It's a lot of fun. It's a lot of hard work, and it's hot out. But it's good for me."
Proceeds from the annual showcase will benefit Shiners hospitals, one of which the players already toured.
"It opened my eyes a little bit," Schmidt said. "I'm glad we're doing this to help them out."
Also on Schmidt's mind is the East-West rivalry. The West leads the all-time series, 15-10.
"For us from Garden City, it's a big deal, since we got beat by Olathe at state," Schmidt said. "It's a big thing for us."
-- Andrew Hartsock's phone number is 832-7216. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.