Like a lot of us, Garrett Shrader found himself with a little too much free time when the coronavirus shut down the entire country back in March. So, he decided to finally do something he'd been putting off for far too long.
He took up flying.
"It can be a little scary, but definitely it's more fun than anything," said Shrader, who said he'll likely have his pilot's license within the next few weeks. "My grandfather likes to say, it's hours of boredom separated by seconds of pure terror. That pretty much sums up flying."
Shrader, whose great-grandfather was a World War II pilot, has decided to fly north to continue his college football career, announcing his decision over the weekend to transfer to Syracuse after two years at Mississippi State. The North Carolina native played in 10 games including four starts as a freshman in 2019, but after being moved to wide receiver during fall camp, entered the transfer portal in October.
The 6-4, 220-pound dual-threat quarterback was a 4-star prospect coming out of Charlotte Christian School, and he said Syracuse offered him a scholarship after he'd already made up his mind. Getting recruited by Dino Babers for a second time moved the Orange toward the top of Shrader's list, joining Louisville and Virginia Tech in his final three from about a dozen potential suitors.
Despite the fact the 20-year old said he only remembers seeing snow once when he lived in Texas, and it was gone the next day, Shrader decided to come to the winter weather capital of the country, because Dino's offense can warm up a deep freeze.
Garrett speaks with a soft, southern drawl, but says underneath his easy-going nature lies a fierce competitor whose only goal is to win games. One of three FBS freshman quarterbacks to account for 1,000 passing yards and 500 rushing yards in 2019, his style, size, and personality are similar to another recent SU quarterback, Eric Dungey.
Both Shrader and Dungey have produced spectacular running highlights in the past few years, with Dungey hurdling tacklers at Virginia, and Shrader getting helicopter-tackled (no, he doesn't fly copters, he flies planes) against Kansas State two seasons ago (Google it, it's worth a look).
"If I could sum up how I play, that'd probably be it," Shrader said wearily of the play he's seen replays of far too often. "I was trying to get the first down, and I came close."
He says he's planning to enroll at SU for spring semester and report to campus next month, beginning the process of getting to know his new teammates and surroundings, and prepare for the start of spring football. Shrader says Babers has made him no promises about playing time, but also says the coach told him "we don't recruit backup quarterbacks", assuring the ex-Bulldog he'll be given a chance to compete for the starting role.
"I'm not coming in and expecting to be the starter from day one," he said. "But, I fully expect myself to win that job. I'm excited about it. I'm just ready to go in and get to work, keep my head down and keep grinding, and the football will take care of itself."
And if all goes according to Garrett's plan, he won't just be piloting planes next fall. He'll also be at the controls of the 'Cuse, when touchdowns aren't graded on the smoothness of a landing, and there's only one gauge that really matters.
"That  was really my first time having a losing season, really, the past two years, and I'm really hungry to turn that around," Shrader said. "I want to take control, and I want to dominate, be the best player, and make my team that much better."