DALLAS (BVM) – Brayden Schager is the No. 65-ranked pro-style quarterback by 247Sports, has 16 Division I offers and has yet to start a varsity game.
It’s not for lack of talent, but rather a void in opportunity.
When Schager arrived at Highland Park High School as a freshman, John Stephen Jones was the Scots’ quarterback. Jones won a pair of state championships at Highland Park before signing with Arkansas. His successor was the son of former SMU and Arkansas head coach Chad Morris, Chandler Morris. Chandler would spend two seasons as the Scots’ starting quarterback, capturing a state title of his own as a junior, and was Oklahoma’s only quarterback signing in 2020.
Despite spending Friday nights for the first three years of his prep career on the sidelines relaying signals to the offense, Schager took it all in stride.
“Obviously, it wasn’t the ideal situation for me but I just kind of took advantage of the learning experience, learned from the mental side of it and got the mental reps,” Schager said. “I just made the best of a bad situation I was in and worked extremely hard.”
— Brayden Schager (@BraydenSchager) July 3, 2020
Last season in a reserve role, Schager completed 30 of just 51 attempts for 473 yards, six scores and two interceptions. But it’s in the 7-on-7 realm where Schager has made his name.
The Pylon 7-on-7 National Event in Las Vegas, also known as “The Mecca” of 7-on-7 tournaments, is a competition that hosts more than 100 teams from around the country. Littered with future Division I stars, two of the squads were led by 2021 five-star quarterbacks in Washington commit Sam Huard and Michigan-bound J.J. McCarthy.
Team Grind, led by Schager, won the whole thing in February. Schager led Team Grind to seven wins, tossed a touchdown on the final play of the championship game to win it and earned a spot on the 247Sports Dream Team from the event.
A 2021 QB to absolutely watch and know. Brayden Schager of Highland Park, TX just led his team to a @Pylon7on7 Championship at #TheMecca over 100 teams in the bracket and he and @TGrindAthletics are the last team standing. pic.twitter.com/MZWfDPo63M
— Pylon 7on7 Football (@Pylon7on7) February 24, 2020
The buzz Schager created around his game led to a handful of area high schools recruiting him to step into their starting role, he said. Although the interest was flattering, Schager said Highland Park is not a program he could leave.
After all, he’d waited long enough.
“It (transferring) was definitely an option at the time, but at the end of the day, I knew there’s no program like Highland Park,” Schager said. “Coach (Randy) Allen is a great man and he’s built an amazing program here at HP. There’s really no other place in Texas like it that I could’ve gone to; I wanted to stay here.
“The guys that I’ve been growing up with, I just felt like I couldn’t leave them. This 2021 class is really tight-knit and when I leave this year, I think it’s going to pay off because we have a special team this year.”
Allen became the third coach in state history to win 400 career games last season, but Highland Park’s quest for a fourth consecutive state title ended in the Class 5A Division I Region II semifinal.
Now, Schager will step into the fold looking to begin a new Highland Park streak. A moment he’s been waiting for his entire life.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for, literally, my whole life,” Schager said. “I’ve been waiting for my senior season. It’s my time to go out there and prove to everybody that I really am a good quarterback. I can’t wait to go out there and run on the field. It’s going to be an amazing moment.”
The start of the football season in Texas has been pushed back into late September for about 500 Class 5A and Class 6A schools, but Schager said he and his coaching staff are optimistic about a season.
What makes Schager even more optimistic is his future at the University of Hawaii.
— Brayden Schager (@BraydenSchager) July 18, 2020
Seven coaches from Texas on Hawaii’s staff made a large impact on Schager, but even more so are the three other 2021 commits from the Lone Star State.
“I think Texas has the best football in the country so why not recruit here? Last year, they (Hawaii) got a bunch of kids from Texas as well and if they keep recruiting this state,” Schager said, “they’re going to see some success.
“People really are built different in Texas.”