Once a Lancer and Bulldog, Cody Schrader is finally a Tiger.
“I just thought I was in the place in my life where I could finally ... chase my dream of playing in the SEC, especially playing for Mizzou,” Schrader said in an interview with KMIZ ABC 17 before the season.
The 5-foot-9, 214-pound running back received a grand total of zero Division-I offers out of Lutheran South High School in St. Louis despite exploding for 111 total touchdowns, including 99 of the rushing variety, and 6,759 rushing yards. Schrader set 17 school records while earning first-team all-state honors as a senior.
“That’s something I’ve always asked myself,” Schrader said following training camp when asked what boxes he didn’t check off for Division-I coaches as a high school recruit. “If I really had to guess, I really never was the biggest, fastest (or) strongest.”
His efforts yielded offers from Ole Miss and Missouri State to join the program as a preferred walk-on, but one school remained off his trail—the University of Missouri. Without a clear-cut opportunity, Schrader made a decision that would alter his trajectory with a commitment to Truman State University.
Schrader, who redshirted in 2018, burst onto the scene in 2019, eclipsing 850 all-purpose yards en route to being named to the All-Great Lakes Valley Conference second-team. His 2020 campaign featured only four games total due to the pandemic, but Schrader made them count with an impressive 405 yards and seven touchdowns.
The best was yet to come for the motivated back, however.
Schrader’s 2021 season extinguished any doubt as to whether his success would continue, replacing those thoughts with ones about which Division-I team would be the first to call. He led Division-II with an astonishing 2,074 rushing yards with 24 touchdowns while adding GLVC co-Offensive Player of the Year and All-GLVC first-team to his honors as well.
His breakout performance not only put Division-II on notice, but also gave Schrader enough insurance to enter his name into the transfer portal following the season, announcing the decision on Dec. 20, 2021.
Less than 20 days later, he had his selection.
Schrader’s decision—to walk on at Mizzou—added one of the nation’s most prolific rushers to the Tigers’ program and tallied yet another name to the growing list of in-state talents that head coach Eliah Drinkwitz has rostered in his three years.
Flash forward to now, entering week 11 of the 2022 season, Schrader’s story has become even more unbelievable as he’s risen from the background to the forefront of Mizzou’s rushing attack in a few short weeks.
“I can say (Schrader) surprised me when he first came in,” Mizzou quarterback Brady Cook said during the weekly offensive press conference on Oct. 26. “Fast forward to now, it’s been awesome to see. We’ve built a great relationship and I’m super excited for him. He loves this stuff, he loves Mizzou and he’s having a blast.”
Not only is Schrader enjoying his experience, but he’s also putting opposing defenses to the test. The senior has racked up 508 rushing yards and five touchdowns while averaging 4.58 yards per carry despite playing behind a depleted and uninspiring offensive line. In fact, if not for the offensive line play which has accounted for an SEC-worst 14.58% negative play rate, Schrader would likely rank near the Top-10 in SEC rushers (He ranks 13th now).
Even with all of these challenges in both life and on the field, Schrader has continued to bet on himself. His work ethic, resiliency and continuous growth are factors that are beginning to shine through.
After being named the starting back against South Carolina, Schrader said “I just think it’s a huge honor... My mindset, the way I prepare and the way I go about it, doesn’t change no matter what the difference in roles are.”
At each stop—Lutheran South, Truman State and now Mizzou—Schrader has embodied this mentality, progressing into a leader and integrating himself into the offense. So far this season, the first-year Tiger elapsed transfer running back Nathaniel Peat and returner Elijah Young on the depth chart en route to a majority of the workload.
His uptick in volume has been met with some resistance of late, as evidenced with comments made by Drinkwitz Tuesday, saying he felt Schrader carried too much of the workload against Kentucky— a game in which he rushed 21 times for 65 yards behind an injured offensive line.
Despite the comments though, Schrader will continue to serve as the workhorse running back while searching for his first 100-yard rushing game (He has four 70+ yard rushing games already). Matchups against Tennessee, New Mexico State and Arkansas will give him opportunities to showcase why fans should never count him out, but if there’s anything we’ve learned from Schrader’s journey, it’s that he will give his all to achieve whatever he puts his mind to.
On top of his journey to RB1, Mizzou fans learned that Schrader will be on scholarship beginning in January, an accomplishment for a player who many assumed would serve primarily as a special teams piece and the occasional running back at the start of spring camp.
Instead, more than halfway through the season, Schrader is doing what he does best—proving doubters wrong.
The former Lancer and Bulldog has accumulated over 600 total yards on offense, scored five touchdowns and notched back-to-back games with over 20 carries. Facing SEC defenses for the first time, Schrader is making them pay, which will continue as far as his collegiate journey takes him.
Luckily for Mizzou fans, that will not be limited to this season. Schrader will have one year of eligibility remaining after this season, giving him an opportunity to build off his first season at Mizzou while continuing to play the game he loves.
“Football has always been my passion,” Schrader said following fall camp. “It’s just something I love to do. It’s something I’ve always worked very hard for, so going out there (and) giving the team every I got, putting the team first and trying to build that trust and respect is always something I’ve prided myself in.”
On the field, Schrader’s relationship with Cook and the offense looks like a seamless fit. The next step, however, will be to remain consistent in an attempt to solidify himself as Mizzou’s lead running back for the rest of his collegiate career, a position that’s been held by some prominent faces in Tiger football history.
When looking back at the recent Mizzou running backs of past—Tyler Badie, Larry Rountree III, Ish Witter and Russell Hansbrough—it’s evident that Schrader is jumping into a strong lineage of halfbacks to lead the Tigers. Even with these star-studded names though, Schrader will have an opportunity to build a legacy, which he accomplished at Lutheran South and Truman State as a Lancer and Bulldog, respectively.
This time, however, Schrader will look to do so...
...as a Missouri Tiger.