While Pro Days aren't usually a cheering spectacle, a group of 30-40 people gathered in the UNI-Dome stands on March 28 anyway. The group represented a small town of Tripoli, Iowa, and the guy they were there to watch has grown into a hometown hero.
Northern Iowa defensive end Karter Schult has watched his career skyrocket from eight-man high school football to standout junior and senior seasons for the Panthers. He is now chasing the NFL dream, with Tripoli following and cheering his every move.
Schult's mindset has been simple: Don't change it.
Shult entered the FCS level as a small-town guy. Now he enters the NFL Draft process as a small-school guy.
"I got the scholarship offer to UNI and I remember my first fall camp and I got my butt kicked pretty good by the seniors," Schult told HERO Sports. "I knew I had to make some changes and needed to get stronger. I pretty much lived in the weight room. I told myself I'm going to do everything possible to play here. I kept that mentality even when I got to be a junior and a senior. I still hold that mentality to this day. My work ethic is what gets me everywhere."
Schult described living in Tripoli as being "raised in a village." But he was given every opportunity to grow his athleticism. Schult played four sports for all four years of high school. On the football field, he played defensive end, linebacker, offensive line, fullback, tight end and kicker.
Once he was able to focus on one sport, things started to click for Schult his junior year. He set the school record for tackles for loss in 2015 with 23 and added 15 sacks. Schult was awarded all-conference and all-American honors, something that put him on NFL scouts' radars.
He upped his totals in 2016 with 24 tackles for loss and 17 sacks. After the dominating season, the 6-foot-4, 269-pounder was recognized as the best defensive player in the FCS with the Buck Buchanan Award.
Even with the stats and accolades to back up his play and talking with a lot of teams at the Shrine Game and Pro Day, it's been otherwise quiet for Schult as he's been working out in Texas.
"At the time I was getting the Buck Buchanan Award and around that time in early January, I was getting quite a bit of attention," Schult said. "Since then, it's been pretty quiet. I'm not sure why, but it doesn't even really matter to me. I've always been an underdog.
"It seems like it's playing out that way now. I would love to get drafted. It's been a dream of mine. But if it doesn't happen, if I get my shot, it's going to be the same way how I approached college with an underdog mentality. I don't think I'll ever not have a chip on my shoulder."
It's a mindset he's had since growing up in Tripoli. And wherever he ends up, drafted or not, his hometown will be watching every step of the way.
"The whole town is crazy supportive," Schult said. "They always want me to come back and talk to the students. Actually they show up to everything here. There were always a ton of people at games. Even last Tuesday at Pro Day. I can only imagine it's going to get crazier as this goes on."