National Signing Day can sometimes be the day of the forgotten recruit.
We pay so much attention to those players who are going on to play at the Division I level that we don’t appreciate so many others across the country who are feeling the same joy with their families.
There are probably 15 to 20 or maybe more in Northeast Tarrant County who will sign with Division II, junior colleges or Division III schools. They get to fulfill a dream that began on practice fields and weight rooms long ago.
I didn’t even know what National Signing Day was. Then I saw [safety] Camdon Ross sign with Houston two years ago and it really hit that this was something I wanted to do.
- Timber Creek quarterback Cade Schrader on signing with Tarleton State
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That’s where you appreciate someone like Keller Timber Creek’s Cade Schrader. On Saturday night, the Falcons quarterback tweeted he had verbally committed to Division II Tarleton State in Stephenville. He will sign his letter of intent with the school today.
“It’s going to be huge for me,” Schrader said. “I didn’t even know what National Signing Day was. Then I saw [safety] Camdon Ross sign with Houston two years ago and it really hit that this was something I wanted to do.”
This day will bring some emotion as well. Schrader lost his father, Curtis, who passed away in 2009. Time has moved forward but Cade recounts the joy of watching college football with his father. Schrader’s mother has since remarried, but you can imagine where her son’s mind will be.
“He was why I love football,” Schrader said. “I got into the sport because of him. That was our thing, watching and going crazy. I wanted to go big for him last year and being able to do everything I could for our program.”
Dad probably saw it all. In 2016, Schrader did something that no other quarterback in Timber Creek history has ever done. He led the program to its first winning record. The Falcons finished 7-5 and also won their first playoff game when they beat Arlington Martin, 54-51. Schrader had a really good year, throwing for 3,416 yards and 28 touchdowns while completing 62 percent of his passes.
Schrader didn’t have a lot of recruiting factors in his favor. He started out on one of the lower subvarsity teams and didn’t seem to move up quickly even through his sophomore year. A 6-0, 180-pound quarterback isn’t going to draw the interest of many schools at the college level.
But Ross’s moment drove Schrader to put in the time. It drove him to work on his mechanics. It drove him to seek outside help from QB coach Ryan Roberts. Roberts helped him with pocket presence, making second and third reads and being able to make all the throws.
It’s a process. Schrader had to wait his turn through his junior year behind Caleb Collins. That Timber Creek team was more of a run-first operation. But once the offense was turned over Schrader, the Falcons turned to the spread.
“We knew he was a good trigger man,” Timber Creek coach Kevin Golden said. “With the team that we had, we felt he was a better fit. He just had to bide his time. When he came to us, he was a small guy. But he worked so hard that junior offseason. He just did all those things to prepare for a good season.
“He’s a Drew Brees type. He’s not big. But the thing that makes him special is his quick release. I have to think that’s what Tarleton State saw.”
While Tarleton State lurked, that coaching staff wasn’t prepared to offer. Directional Oklahoma schools and junior colleges offered. But when the trip to Stephenville sprung up over the weekend, that was it.
A day like this first Wednesday of February is all about what you value. Player’s sacrifices finally pan out. Schrader won’t get the headlines, but frankly, that doesn’t matter. What he does have is what all the other players who are signing have.