UF Senior Salute: Jesse Schmitt
As is the case with most Florida Gators walk-ons, it does not take long to rattle off Jesse Schmitt’s on-field accomplishments.
In his two years with the Gators, Schmitt has played in one game — Florida's 39-0 home win against Alabama-Birmingham last season. He carried the ball once that Sept. 10 night for zero yards.
While Schmitt may not have gained any yards for Florida’s football team, his impact and actions off the field are far less understated.
Many may remember the 5-foot-7, 168-pound running back from the first time he pushed his way into headlines in 2011 during the Gators’ fourth annual Charity Challenge. In the push-up competition, Schmitt did more than 180 repetitions to beat out cornerback Jeremy Brown.
At the time, Schmitt was an unheralded walk-on out of Cardinal Newman High in Palm Beach Gardens, who needed two years of tryouts to finally make Florida’s roster.
“I’m actually going into the Marine Corps after college, so I did my training last summer and we did a lot of pushups there, that certainly helped,” said Schmitt, after winning the event. “I’ve got a lower body weight than most of those guys by at least 100 pounds, so that comes in handy.”
Schmitt, who is on pace to be commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marines after graduating, also showed his aspirations as a leader while running for a student government position this year.
On the Students Party ticket with presidential candidate Alex Cornillie, Schmitt ran for vice president of the student body and garnered the support of Florida coach Will Muschamp.
“I wanted to join his teammates in endorsing Jesse as VP for Student Government,” said Muschamp before the election. “I know that his leadership and drive for excellence will make him successful and in turn make campus a better place for every student.”
Even with the ringing endorsement, the pair lost in a close election to the Unite Party’s candidates in February.
Before the election, Schmitt had also made a name for himself by bringing the highly popular Humans vs. Zombies game to Florida’s campus in the spring of 2010 when he was a freshman. Mixing a game of tag with Nerf guns, Humans vs. Zombies quickly swelled in popularity around campus with Schmitt as the event’s president.
When Schmitt stepped down as the game’s leader a year later after walking on to Florida’s football team, Humans vs. Zombies had more than 700 players.
With his career with the Gators coming to a close, Schmitt’s list of accomplishments extend far beyond the football field. For four years, he chose to give back to his peers and make life more enjoyable for others.
If his time at Florida and chosen profession as a Marine are any indication, Schmitt will continue to be a leader long after he leaves Gainesville.
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