Playing quarterback runs in the family for UND's Tommy Schuster
Tommy Schuster is one of three Schuster brothers excelling at quarterback this fall. Ryan is a true freshman at Lafayette College, while Andrew is a high school junior in Michigan.
GRAND FORKS — At Chippewa Valley High School, about 30 miles from Detroit, offensive coordinator Andy Denryter has trained quarterback brothers Tommy Schuster, Ryan Schuster and Andrew Schuster.
Denryter first started working with UND's starting quarterback as an eighth-grader.
"When he's doing something new, he almost immediately picks it up," Denryter said. "Lots of kids can't do that. They don't understand the why. All three of the boys are like that. They can process and implement change at an elite level."
All three quarterback Schuster brothers have played at a high level this fall.
- Tommy, a three-year starter for the Fighting Hawks, has thrown for more than 1,400 yards at a 68.6 completion percentage. UND is ranked No. 20 in the FCS.
- Ryan, a true freshman at Patriot League FCS member Lafayette College in Easton, Penn., was the Patriot League Rookie of the Week for the first three weeks of his career this fall. He suffered a season-ending injury in Week 4 against Penn.
- Andrew is a left-handed starting quarterback at Chippewa Valley as a junior, leading his team to a 6-2 record in the highest division of football in Michigan. Andrew has become the third Schuster quarterback brother to receive Division I recruiting interest.
Two of these paths intersected this fall when Tommy and the Fighting Hawks were in Youngstown, Ohio, playing against the Penguins on the same day Andrew was on a recruiting visit to the Missouri Valley Football Conference member.
"It was pretty cool," Tommy said of his brother attending UND's game against Youngstown. "He can be recruited at this level and would be the third brother recruited, so that would be pretty cool."
The Schuster brothers' dad Don said the boys help each other with quarterback advice.
"There's a lot of knowledge there about the quarterback position," Don said. "Ryan has learned from Tommy and Andrew has learned from both. That's a lot of experience to pass along. It's always good to have that kind of help."
Don and Sandi Schuster have four boys, with 23-year-old Donnie choosing to play basketball. Donnie went to junior college before attending Michigan State as a student.
Don played high school football but not college football and says his boys receive the athleticism from Sandi, who was a standout volleyball player at NCAA Division II Wayne State in Michigan.
The Schuster boys make for busy weekends for Don and Sandi. After Andrew's game on Friday nights, Don and Sandi take flights out in different directions to catch Saturday games for the older two quarterbacks.
Youngstown State was a four-hour drive for Don. It's the closest game this season for the Macomb, Mich., residents. Grand Forks is a 16-hour drive, one the family has only made a couple of times.
"It's busy, but I wouldn't trade it for anything," Don said. "It's a good busy. I'm really proud of all the kids. They've put in a lot of hard work. It's not easy to do what they're doing. I'm really proud of them. It's fun to watch."
Tommy has taken his game to a new level this season as he rockets up UND's record book.
He's 17 completions away from becoming UND's all-time record holder for career completions.
With 292 passing yards at Youngstown State, he now has the most career passing yards in UND's Division I history (5,492). Tommy is 743 yards away from becoming the all-time career passing yards leader at UND. The current record is held by Todd Kovash (1987-90) with 6,234 yards.
Tommy's route to Grand Forks was interesting. In 2019, UND held a long verbal commitment from Lincoln, Neb., quarterback Cedric Case, who flipped his commitment to Texas State late in the process.
Case is now the starting quarterback at NCAA Division II Central Missouri. After Case's flip, UND pursued Schuster, who had been committed to Division II Ashland (Ohio).
Tommy led Chippewa Valley to a 2018 Michigan state title, throwing 13-for-13 for more than 200 yards and two touchdowns at Ford Field in Detroit.
Denryter, who played quarterback at NCAA Division III Adrian College, pitched Tommy on the recruiting trail.
"I've worked around the country, and I've never met a kid like Tommy," Denryter told coaches. "I told coaches I'm not saying he has the strongest arm or this or that, but if you're on the fence between Tommy and somebody else, you want Tommy. He's different."
In Grand Forks, Schuster has developed a reputation for his laid-back demeanor. Denryter first witnessed that style when Tommy was a sophomore in high school.
"His sophomore year, we were playing our rival who was very good that year," Denryter said. "We upset them in the regular season and Tommy was phenomenal. At the end of the first half, we got the ball near midfield and he throws a Hail Mary and the receiver comes down with it. If you watch the end-zone film, he launches the ball, ducks around the offensive line to see what happens. Everyone else on the film goes wild and Tommy slowly trots down there. It's a perfect example of how he's always been even-keel."
Just last week, Denryter was watching film for an opponent Chippewa Valley hadn't played since Tommy's prep career, so Denryter watched the old film.
"His ability to drop a ball over a defender or throw a receiver open with just the proper trajectory ... he has such an eye and feel for the game," Denryter said. "Those things are very difficult to teach. (The Schuster brothers) are special players — all three of them."