Garrett Shrader and the Syracuse quarterback room’s Southern twang
Garrett Shrader and Syracuse's cast of southern QB's
The words crept out of Garrett Shrader‘s mouth, past the beard Dino Babers said reminded him of ‘Grizzly Adams’ and into the air in a smooth, Southern purr.
“That’s one of the less common ones,” Shrader said about his coaches’ given nickname. “I always get ‘Castaway’ or ‘Forrest Gump’ when he’s running, so I appreciated that.”
Shrader, like his beard, is unmistakably unique. He often jokes with reporters before slipping into the locker room or examining the Dum Dums lollipop display on the check-in desk counter.
He’s spent most of his life and football career south of the Mason Dixon line. He transferred to Syracuse from Mississippi State in Starkville, Mississippi last December. Before that, he played at Charlotte Christian High School in Charlotte, North Carolina after moving from Dallas, Texas.
Shrader and the Orange will play back-to-back games on the road in the South, beginning with Louisville on Saturday and NC State the following week. Now just one win away from clinching the program’s first bowl berth since 2018, it’s a string of road games that SU can’t afford to slip up.
“We want to win every game, but this one especially,” Shrader said about Louisville. “The timing is right, we’re coming off a bye week, (Louisville) had a tough weekend last week with Clemson, so we’re rested up and ready to go.”
Shrader said going into SU’s Week 9 win over Boston College was “probably the worst (he) felt going into a game this year,” and rested over the bye week. His time-off consisted of watching ‘Duck Dynasty’ on a reclining chair and, to his disappointment, missing out on a hunting trip with fellow SU quarterback Dillon Markiewicz.
“I had prior obligations, unfortunately,” he said, adding that he loaned Markiewicz his range finder. “I don’t even know if he came back with anything, but it was a funny trip to hear about that.”
It’s a Central New York hunting scene that Shrader said earlier this fall he was “making connections” in. And it’s an Orange QB room that he’s grown comfortable in since earning the starting job over former Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito in September.
“We all get along, we mesh really well,” Shrader said. “This is one of the better QB rooms I think I’ve been a part of.”
Markiewicz and second-string QB JaCobian Morgan are Southern guys as well: Markiewicz is from McKinney, Texas and Morgan is from Canton, Mississippi, a county Shrader said he spent some time in while at MSU.
“He’s my best friend on the team if not one of my best friends,” Markiewicz said of Shrader. “We’re always hanging out together, doing stupid things. We have so much in common, it’s great to have another guy from the South up here.”
He’s just a special type of guy, the biggest thing is he’s just bold. He’s just bold. How you see him play on the field, just crazy, is the type of guy he is off the field too.”
That “bold”, “crazy” elusive play style has drawn comparisons to former Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey, who broke multiple SU QB records from 2015-2018. Shrader’s scrambling ability has accounted for 670 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns in just six starts this season. He’s rushed for more than 170 yards on two separate occasions this season, something Dungey did just once in his four seasons at Syracuse.
“(Shrader is) just a good ole country boy, that’s kind of his personality,” Babers said. “He cares, but he doesn’t, he cares about his body, but he doesn’t, he cares about winning, which is important. I think he elevates other people’s play around him.”
It’s kind of like an Eric Dungey thing. Some people will say, ‘well I can’t do that, I might get hurt,’ all (Shrader) cares about is winning.”