A 'miracle': KU wide receiver overcomes odds to return to football field

A little over a year ago, Kansas Jayhawks wide receiver Ryan Schadler wasn't sure he would ever get back on the field. (AP File Photo)

A little over a year ago, Kansas Jayhawks wide receiver Ryan Schadler wasn't sure he would ever get back on the field.

Days were filled with visits to multiple doctors and even the Mayo Clinic.

It wasn't until Schadler visited Lawrence Memorial Hospital that he was diagnosed with intestinal malrotation, a birth defect he had been dealing with his entire life.

“During fall camp, I was in extreme pain in my abdomen and extreme bloating to where it hurt to stand up," Schadler said. "It felt like I had the flu constantly.”

After four hours of surgery and a painful year of recovery, he was unsure if he would return to play the sport he loved.

“He could have done track and field if the doctors said he couldn’t play football because of the seriousness of the injury," said Al Schadler, his father. "He may have done that. But when they said he could come back, he wanted to put in the effort to do it so we support him.”

During his freshman year, he accepted a scholarship to run at Wichita State, but only a few months into his career, he had a burning desire to return to the football field.

“I didn’t want to live my life in regret so I just went ahead and took a jump," he said.

Division I colleges weren't interested in another Kansas kid with big numbers in a bad league, but just when Schadler thought Division II was his only chance to get back to the game he loved, former Kansas Jayhawks interim head coach Clint Bowen picked up the phone.

"This is Coach Bowen...I want you to join the team."

The family said that was only his first of many victories during his time in a Jayhawks uniform.

“It’s a great feeling on Saturdays when you run out there after going through something like I have," Schadler said. "Just being able to showcase that and live that out, because I never thought I would be able to do that again. It’s definitely a blessing.”

He says football is engrained in his soul.

His body has recovered better than most people believed and three years after leaving Wichita State's track team, he's proving he belongs on a Big 12 football field.

While KU's one win might not seem like a successful season, it was for the Schadler family.

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