CALIFORNIA – Cody Schroeder, who started five games and played in nine last season for California University’s football team, transferred to Urbana University, a Division II school in Ohio.
Schroeder lost the starting quarterback job to James Harris, a 6-2, 225-pound junior from Woodstock, Ga., in spring ball. Harris was a transfer last year from Wake Forest, where he played three seasons of baseball for the Demon Deacons. Harris has two years of eligibility at Cal.
“James Harris came out of spring ball as our starter and best case scenario for Cody was to battle in camp,” said Cal head coach Mike Kellar. “He feels he can be the starter there. It’s the best thing for Cody and the best thing for our team, because it entrenches James as our starter.”
Cal started the spring with three quarterbacks on the roster: Harris, Schroeder and Mike Keir, a 6-2, 215-pound redshirt freshman from Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia.
Schroeder and Harris had nearly identical stats last season in equal time. Schroeder, a 6-2 and 190-pounder from Avon, Ohio, completed 55 percent of his passes for 1,262 yards and 10 touchdowns. Harris also completed 55 percent of his passes for 1,294 yards and eight touchdowns. The difference, and what finally separated the two, was interceptions. Schroeder threw 10 and Harris had five.
“There were days when you said, ‘Boy, Cody is as good as it gets’ and there were days when you said the same thing about James,” Kellar said. “I felt like they made the same amount of plays, but I felt Cody had the propensity to make the costly turnover. If I had to say what separated them, that was it. And some of it was bad luck. He made turnovers in the red zone.
“He worked so hard, but even in the spring, he threw some red zone interceptions. They have the same stats, but Cody’s interceptions seemed a little more costly. … I don’t want to cut on Cody because I love him to death.”
Keir left Roman Catholic High School as the school’s all-time leading passer with 4,744 yards, including a school-record 1,837 yards as a senior.
“Keir had offers from Division I schools such as UMass and some things fell through ,” said Kellar. “He kind of fell into our lap. He’s a guy who needed the reps to grow the way we wanted. Quarterback is a position where, if you have two, you don’t have any. We were going to be in a position where we had three kids who, from a talent standpoint, weren’t going to be much different.”
The other significant change will be moving running back Jeff Knox back to defense. Knox, a transfer from Pitt, began his career as a short-yardage back in goal-line situations to take advantage of his 6-3, 200-pound frame. He led the team with 507 yards rushing last season, but the development of Ringgold graduate Derrick Fiore (390, 4.7 average) and sophomore Nick Grissom (375, 3.3) allowed the switch.
Cal opens the season Saturday, Sept. 6 with a home game against Virginia State.