Sometimes the most thankless job in sports can give you the most beautiful view of an amazing moment.
Just ask Wyatt Schmidt.
A week ago, the Inver Grove Heights native and former St. Thomas Academy multisport standout trotted out on the field for one of the biggest moments of his life.
Schmidt, the only Minnesotan and one of the few Midwesterners on USC’s football roster, had a simple but terrifying job: catch the ball from USC’s long snapper and place it for Matt Boermeester, who was attempting to end a wild Rose Bowl with one kick.
Yes, the actual Rose Bowl — not just the #RowsBowl Gophers fans hope new coach P.J. Fleck and his “Row the Boat” mantra can deliver.
If Schmidt messes up his task as USC’s holder, he’s a goat. If he executes, nobody remembers.
“All my friends say it’s a lose-lose situation. Unfortunately, I did drop a ball this year, and it’s a 1 out of 1,000 thing that happens. People send you videos like, ‘What is this kid doing?’” Schmidt said. “But it really paid off. I’ve practiced it so much. I’m good at it. But yeah, it’s a lose-lose situation.”
But in that final play of the Rose Bowl, everyone did their jobs. And it led to the game-winning field goal in a 52-49 victory — from a vantage point Schmidt never will forget.
“I was glad I was just able to be a part of the last play in that Rose Bowl,” he said.
Particularly considering the route Schmidt took to get to Pasadena. As a senior at St. Thomas Academy, he was a standout place-kicker — going 15-for-15 on field goals and 39-for-39 on extra points. But hockey was his first love, and after graduation Schmidt spent 2013 playing junior hockey in South Dakota.
After a year of that — and with at least another year of juniors standing between him and college — Schmidt decided it was time to move on. He latched on with USC as a walk-on kicker and soon became the Trojans’ holder.
In addition to holding, he’s also the backup long snapper. Plus, Schmdit still practices kicking and can punt as well.
“My friend was saying I’m a Swiss-army knife. I’m ready for whatever,” he said.
Could Schmidt do all three of the placekicking tasks — snapping, holding and kicking — at the same time?
“I think being able to snap to myself would be difficult, but if I tried hard enough I possibly could,” he said with a laugh. “But I would struggle holding and kicking at the same time.”
One job done well is plenty for Schmidt, anyway.
“People used to ask, ‘What position are you’ and I would say kicker,” he said. “Now I’m owning it. I’m a holder and I’m loving it.”
Like a window washer at a high-rise building, Schmidt might have a thankless task — but at least you can’t beat the view.