Look up and down the roster of Texas Class 6A Division I state champion Lake Travis High School, and you’ll see potent Power Five-conference talent.
The AP State player of the year, Charlie Brewer, committed to Baylor after throwing 54 touchdown passes. Throw in running back Maleek Bradley (Arkansas), offensive lineman Brenden Jaimes (Nebraska), tight end Cade Brewer (Texas) and safety Austin Tiller (Northwestern)—there’s a reason why the Cavaliers lost only one game last season on their way to their sixth state championship since 2007.
That list of FBS talent also includes wide receiver Cade Green, who was an integral part of an offense that averaged over 40 points across its last six games.
“To be honest with you, we have a lot of great players that are graduating this class, but to me, Cade was our go-to guy,” Lake Travis head coach Hank Carter said last Thursday.
Green, maybe under the radar to some, will sign his letter of intent on Wednesday to play for the Wisconsin Badgers and bring an intriguing skill set to Paul Chryst’s offense.
Like his future alma mater, Green played and won under the lights of AT&T Stadium for his 2016 season finale. Lake Travis steamrolled The Woodlands for a 41-13 victory, with Green reeling in a nine-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to start the Cavaliers’ scoring.
“It was a pretty cool feeling,” Green said of the touchdown last Wednesday, “but it was cooler to us get out and get rolling like we did—and then just us being so successful in the game.”
Most recruiting services have Green, who caught 56 passes for 1,044 yards and 13 receiving touchdowns last season, between 5’11 and 6’0 in height and around 185-187 pounds.
“Production isn’t the definitive attribute when it comes to projecting a player’s ability, but it also can’t be ignored in the case of somebody like Green, who has consistently put up numbers playing in Texas Class 6A football for one of the top programs in the state,” Scout.com Texas state analyst Gabe Brooks said. “Not only has he faced good competition, but he’s part of an offense that features half-a-dozen Power Five recruits, including three skill players other than himself. He finds ways to get open and get the ball.”
According to Carter, Green played on the varsity squad as a freshman, the first to do so in the head coach’s tenure that started in 2007. He then started his sophomore, junior and senior seasons for the Cavaliers while being named team captain in his final year.
“He played our most versatile wide receiver position, which we called the ‘Z,’ and so our offensive coordinator, Mike Wall, used him in a variety of ways,” Carter said. “When we needed a play, a lot of times the ball was going to No. 2.”
Carter said Green improved on catching 50-50 passes where the wideout needs to make a play on the ball, and also in making plays after the catch. That led to an 18.6 yards-per-reception average in 2016 after recording 1,387 all-purpose yards with 72 catches and 16 total touchdowns his junior season.
“Green is the perfect slot wide receiver. He is very quick and runs tremendous routes,” Scout.com national analyst Greg Powers said. “He is also strong and has strong hands. When he goes up to get the football he is able to create separation between himself and the defender. He can make the tough catches at times look easy. He played against top competition in high school and played for a state championship team, so he should be a guy who can come in and compete early for playing time.”
Green admitted he felt the “vibe” of the Wisconsin coaching staff possibly looking at him as its “Z” receiver but plans on mastering both major positions.
“They like players to learn each receiver position that they have so that you can go in at whenever they need,” Green said. “They want me to play some special teams, too, something with the return game.”
The Austin native who was born in Florida and has lived in Michigan, California and Texas showed promise and explosiveness last season as a punt returner, showcasing an elusiveness against defenders in that third phase of the game. Green admitted that he did not officially find the end zone this season, though Carter conceded three were negated by penalties.
Every Wisconsin wide receiver can’t just catch a pass in Chryst’s offense. He has to block effectively. It’s how two true freshmen, A.J. Taylor and Quintez Cephus, saw extensive playing time in 2016.
Green’s Hudl highlights showcase a tenacious blocker who can pancake a defensive back. Admittedly, those are just a sample size of the snaps the wideout received throughout his career, but Carter vouched for his aggression in that phase of the game, calling him “nasty.”
“He’s extremely powerful, cut-up kid,” Carter said. “He uses it on the field. By the end of the game, the corners were wore out, or the safeties, whoever he matched up against. He took great pride in that.”
Green’s path to Wisconsin started through a family friend who, according to Green, roomed with Chryst in college. Film was sent on to UW and made its way to wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore.
In their first conversation, Green said that Gilmore told him UW was interested and wanted to take a better look at his film with Chryst and offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Joe Rudolph.
“I ended up waking up the next morning and seeing my phone,” said Green, a former lacrosse player who initially committed to play that sport at Air Force. “He had sent me a message saying they wanted to offer me, and just that I needed to come up to see the school and what not.”
Green has made four visits to Wisconsin since that time, most recently on Jan. 13.
“I had high expectations about Wisconsin, hearing all about it,” Green said when asked what sealed his verbal pledge to the Badgers. “Just getting up there and seeing the campus, and really getting to know the coaches and just see what they were all about, see what Wisconsin was really all about—really made me fall in love with it. It really fit my personality with who I am and what I like.
“It was just a perfect fit.”
The three-star prospect committed on March 31 and hasn’t looked back. Though he’ll be leaving the Austin area for the Midwest, Green will see his former teammates in Jaimes and Hiller each season on opposite sidelines. Jaimes will look to break into the Huskers’ offensive line rotation, while Hiller will play in Pat Fitzgerald’s secondary for the Wildcats.
The friendly trash talk between the future Big Ten rivals has already started. According to Green, Hiller has joked about laying some hits on his former teammate from the secondary, while the wide receiver looks to juke the future Wildcat.
The biggest factor, however, appears to be the final outcomes of those contests, something Green currently holds bragging rights to and will hope to continue to do in cardinal and white starting next season.
“I had bets with both of those guys this year about the two games,” Green said, “and they can’t really talk right now because we came out on top.”