MANHATTAN — Dalton Schoen is fairly certain that he won't scare anybody with his speed.
That said, nobody caught him from behind last week when, on Kansas State's first play from scrimmage against Texas Tech, he broke free down the middle, got on the end of a 68-yard pass from Skylar Thompson and raced into the end zone untouched.
It was easily his longest reception of the season, but certainly not his only big play. Not only does he lead the Wildcats with 32 catches for 541 yards, but also in yards per catch with 16.9.
"He's a lot faster than what people think and he does a great job of understanding how to run his routes and when to run them and break them off and that kind of stuff," said Thompson, who frequently seeks out Schoen in third down and long situations, even when he's not the fastest receiver on the field. "Me and Dalton have always been on the same page, and I trust him a lot and I know that he's going to go make a play if I give him the opportunity.
"(Against West Virginia), he did exactly that."
Schoen himself is not one to advertise his foot speed, perhaps to preserve an element of surprise. But he admits that he might just be a little faster than opposing defensive backs expect.
"Once I'm going full speed, yeah," he said with a smile. "BU I think just knowing the coverage and being on the same page with the quarterback is helpful."
As a fifth-year senior and two-time first-team academic all-Big 12 honoree, the 6-foot-1, 209-pound Schoen has a well-earned reputation for finding ways to get open.
"He runs great routes, really precise routes," K-State coach Chris Klieman said. "He has a great rapport with Skylar, is such a great competitor and finds a way to just make plays."
And that's no accident, running back Harry Trotter added.
"It starts with his practice and work ethic," Trotter said. "He's one of the hardest workers on the team and obviously he and Skylar have a great connection.
"What's so great about him is he's so consistent each week. He never has a bad week, he comes to play each week and he's a great leader. Each week you can count on him to make a couple of great plays."
Klieman, in his first year at K-State, saw something in Schoen from start.
"Just watching him through winter conditioning and watching him in spring ball, the game just was pretty natural to him and he understood defenses so well," Klieman said. "He understood how to set up the defensive back."
Schoen, a former walk-on from Blue Valley Northwest High School, had 23 receptions for 470 yards as a sophomore and 32 for 520 yards last year, leading Wildcats in yards per catch each of those seasons with a combined average of 18.0.
He ranks fifth in K-State history and 12th in Big 12 history in career yards per catch with a 17.6 average, and his 1,531 career receiving place him at No. 18 on the Wildcat career chart.
Schoen cites a couple of reasons for his ability find open spaces downfield where other receivers might not.
"One, I try to do a pretty good job of reading the coverages and then communicating with the quarterback so we're always on the same page," he said. "I think that's helped a lot.
"And then a lot of times on my deeper routes, the (defensive backs) start kind of off, and if they let me close that cushion and I'm running full speed and they're flat-footed, it's going to be game over because they don't think I can run. Once I'm by 'em, we have a pretty good shot."