Linemates

Nitro (W. Va.) High School's Chad Snodgrass isn't the only Wildcat who will be looking to make a mark on the offensive line at West Virginia this fall.

Tyler Rader, Snodgrass' linemate for four years at the Kanawha Valley school, will join his teammate in Morgantown this fall as a walk-on offensive lineman. Although the rangy Rader received interest from several other schools, and likely could have gotten scholarships from some, his love of West Virginia ended up making the choice a fairly easy one for him. At first, however, it didn't look as if WVU was going to be in the picture.

"When I first started in the recruiting process, WVU never really talked to me," Rader related. "It was mostly Marshall and some of the other smaller Division I schools around here. I was scheduled to go to Youngstown State for a visit, but then the day before Coach Gibson and Coach Rodriguez came to school to talk to me. [My high school coach], Scott Tinsley, came in with them and they talked to me for a little bit."

"Then, that night, Coach Gibson called my dad, and we all talked and got it worked out to where I would walk on at West Virginia. I've been a childhood fan and a season ticket holder for a long time. I just wanted to go there to follow my dream."

That dream, of course, is playing football at the state's only BCS conference school – the one that Rader has followed and cheered for since he was a child. Getting to accompany his longtime friend is icing on the cake.

"Chad and I have been good friends for a long time. It means a lot to be going to college with him," Rader said earnestly. "We played together all four years in high school, so it's going to be great to go up [to West Virginia] and play together another five years.

There is one difference in their paths to the state's flagship university, however. While Snodgrass is going on a scholarship, Rader is taking the difficult and often unglamorous walk-on path. There likely isn't a more anonymous roster spot on the team than that of a walk-on offensive lineman, so Rader knows he will have to work extremely hard to earn notice. Neither he nor Snodgrass, however, think that their difference in status will have any effect on them or their friendship.

"I think I do," said Rader in response to a question about the need to play with a chip on his shoulder in order to prove his worth. "I need to work a little bit harder than everyone else. I do have something to prove. I want to earn a scholarship. That's my main goal, to earn a scholarship as soon as I can."

In his efforts to achieve that goal, Rader has already been to campus to check out his future home, and has met new offensive line coach Greg Frey. Like many of the linemen on the Mountaineer roster, he is impressed with Frey's credentials.

"Coach Frey is a good guy. I like him, a lot, and I think he relates well to kids, because he isn't too far out of college himself," Rader said of the big line coach who has actually been out of school for more than a decade. "When you have won a national championship like he did, you definitely have a lot going for you."

While Frey's national title impresses Rader, he wants to top it with one of his own. That's also one of the reasons he will wear the gold and blue.

"I want to win a national championship," he said when asked what he was looking forward to most at West Virginia. "I am excited to be a part of something great. I know we have the bull's-eye on us, but this whole stat is about West Virginia football. I am really looking forward to being a part of it."


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