MOBILE, Ala. — The Missouri running back is no stranger to being the underdog, and that’s what drives him everyday on his path to the NFL Draft.
Although Cody Schrader doesn’t have the size of Derrick Henry, or the speed of Jahmyr Gibbs, he makes up for it with an amazing work ethic, and that’s the value he’s bringing to the next level. He set the the SEC on fire last season when he led the league in rushing yards, and earned first-team, AP All-America honors for his heroics.
That’s even more of an impressive feat, considering Schrader started out as a walk-on with the Tigers. Everyone knew about his vision, and quickness as a runner, but he only caught 22 passes out of the backfield in 2023. Approaching Saturday’s Senior Bowl the mystery was still out on Schrader’s hands, but he delivered during the contest.
Schrader caught five passes for 54 yards, which were both game-highs. His performance raised several eyebrows of how much of a weapon he can be out of the backfield. Schrader felt comfortable doing it too, considering a couple of Tigers were on his squad, plus family and his girlfriend were in attendance at Hancock Whitney Stadium.
Schrader was grateful for the experience of competing with the best of the best, interviewing with NFL executives and establishing lifelong relationships during his time in Mobile. Most importantly, Schrader is proud of his journey, and wants to be an inspiration to all the youth that been treated as underdogs.
“My biggest thing is that you just never let anybody tell you that you can’t do something, and that you never give up,” Schrader said. “You have to put in the work that matches the dreams that you have, and you have to sacrifice a lot of stuff that other people don’t.”
The St. Louis native has paid his dues, and started from the bottom. Schrader rushed for over 2,000 yards at Truman State, which is a Division II program. He walked-on at Missouri, and was able to thrive in Eliah Drinkwitz’s system. Over the past two seasons with the Tigers, Schrader tallied 2,372 yards on the ground, to go along with 23 rushing scores. Which is why he’s grateful for Drinkwitz giving him a chance, and he literally took the opportunity and ran with it.
“Those opportunities never came until I finally got the opportunity to walk-on at Mizzou, but all I needed was an opportunity,” he said. “All I needed was a chance to get on a team at the big Division I level, and that’s what Mizzou gave me, and that’s why I will always be grateful.”
Schrader’s five-foot-eight, 207-pound frame will make him tough for taller linebackers and defensive linemen to locate at the point of attack. He showed his worth in blocking through three scrimmages leading up to the Senior Bowl also.
There’s no denying Schrader established some momentum after Saturday. The value and lifespan of running backs in the NFL has diminished tremendously in recent years, but that’s not stopping Schrader from making his mark in the pros. Nothing is going to stop him from fulfilling his childhood dreams, including distractions.
At the end of the day Schrader understands what comes with the territory.
“I had to sacrifice everything, relationships, friendships, money to walk-on, and I just always looked at it as an investment in myself, but always wanted to do the opposite of what the majority of people are doing, and that’s the secret to my success.”