CARLISLE, PA., AUG. 7 -- He was one of last season's amazing stories, a 10th-round draft pick and long shot to even make the team, yet eventually loved by the Washington Redskins, adored by the networks and respected by his teammates.
A year later, Mark Schlereth said he has not yet watched any of those tapes. Not the debut against Reggie White and the Eagles. Not the features about being the NFL's first native Alaskan, choosing the University of Idaho over the University of Hawaii "because I felt more comfortable with the bad weather" or any of the other tales of growing up in a land of extremes.
His parents have "some of them" back home in Anchorage, and Schlereth imagines that someday he'll dust them off and take a look.
But not now.
"I like to focus on my job," he said, "and if you get caught up in what people are saying or writing, it could throw you off course. I know what I have to do to prepare and that's what I want to concentrate on. I know when I'm doing well and when I'm not. I don't need someone to tell me."
Schlereth at guard is a living reminder of how inexact a science the draft can be. A year after he was the 263rd player picked, he's one of the foundations of the new generation of Hogs, a guy of whom Coach Joe Gibbs unabashedly says: "Definitely a future star. . . . He's got super strength, he's an excellent athlete and has all the pro standards."
Schlereth has come to this camp ready to press ahead. He took about a week off after last season, then spent much of the offseason in the weight room, where strength coach Dan Riley's program added 12 more pounds of muscle to his legs and chest.
He'll check in against the Atlanta Falcons Saturday night in Chapel Hill, N.C., at 287 pounds -- about 22 more than he did on draft day 1989.
He's one of the reasons the Redskins survived last year after Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby and Mark May got hurt. With no other choice, they force-fed Schlereth, 24, Raleigh McKenzie, 27, Ray Brown, 27, and Ed Simmons, 26, into the offensive line. They were in there when the Redskins won five in a row to salvage a 10-6 season, and they played so well that it may leave the Redskins with some tough decisions about their veteran Hogs.
Rewind tape to training camp a year ago. Schlereth came to camp with so much confidence that he already had a coaching/graduate assistant's job arranged at Idaho. Now he remembers that about midway through training camp he realized he wasn't being overpowered and that he had a chance to make the team.
He sweated out all the final cuts, then when he was told he'd made it, returned to the Dulles Marriott, plopped on a bed "and just lay down. Your nerves are pretty much shot by that time."
"Last year I just wanted to get my foot in the door," he said. "This year I pretty much know I'm going to be here and I want to improve everything. I want better technique. I want to learn the system well enough that everything is just second nature to me. I'm not there yet, but I think I'll get there.
"Last year I was confused and apprehensive. There's so much mental pressure to learn the system and you're working on techniques that are strange to you. We had about three different pass protections in college. Here, we've got 10. We saw about three or four defenses in college. Here, we've got about 10 different variations."
His goal had been "to do the best I could. I didn't know if I was going to make it, but if I didn't, it wasn't going to be lack of effort. I didn't want to look back in 20 years and say, 'Well, if I'd only tried a little harder.' I was going to do everything I could."
His story was told a few hundred times last season, especially after he moved into the starting lineup in Week 10. Even in being retold, it's almost beyond belief.
In the spring of 1989, scouts poured into Moscow, Idaho, to see one of Schlereth's teammates, Marvin Washington, a defensive lineman. Redskins line coach Torgy Torgeson was there, and when Schlereth invited himself to a tryout, he ran a 4.7-second 40 and caught a few passes. At 6 feet 3, 260 pounds, he was big enough to play tight end and strong enough to be an offensive lineman.
Torgeson phoned Redskin Park and told Hogs coach Joe Bugel: "Get up here, there's someone you ought to see."
Bugel did and found a guy not only big and strong, but carrying a 2.85 GPA on his way to a degree in business. On draft day, the Redskins whispered that getting him in the 10th round was "the steal of the draft."
No eyebrows were raised because on draft day every team finds a "steal of the draft" and the Redskins had had some spectacular flameouts after such assessments.
This one was different -- about to become pound-for-pound one of the strongest Redskins and certainly one of the quickest; a careful and methodical student of the game, perhaps because his dyslexia has forced him to take his time reading and studying plays.
Schlereth's father, Herb, grew up in Manhattan and joined the military after high school. While stationed in Anchorage, he met his future wife and remained there after leaving the service.
The short football season forced kids to try other sports and Schlereth won the state heavyweight wrestling title despite being the lightest in the state tournament. He measured his 210 pounds against a 350-pounder in the semifinals and won with quickness that marks his career even now.
Herb and wife Janette made the nine-hour flight to Washington last year to see their son play, and Schlereth believes NFL ratings probably increased in Alaska because of him.
He returned to Alaska only briefly this year, deciding instead to follow Gibbs's suggestion that Redskins make their homes near Redskin Park. Still, there's a lot of Alaska in his heart.
"It's beautiful, gorgeous," he said.