Sep. 2—MINNEAPOLIS — It takes more than a chip on a shoulder to produce the way that Cade Sheehan has.
The former Rochester Mayo quarterback has twice been named to the All-Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference football team, including first-team last season.
But that chip has always been there for Sheehan, and he brought it with him to Augsburg University. It revolves around his height. Most star college quarterbacks are in the 6-feet-2 range. Sheehan is 5-9.
Five inches below average, Sheehan has a theory: Nobody takes him seriously as a quarterback, at least at first glance. That dates back to high school.
But then they watch him play, with his rifle arm, quickness, football sense and grit. At just 5-9, he is a guy who still manages to stand above the rest, first in high school and now in his fourth season at Augsburg, all of them as a starter.
It didn't take long for Augsburg coach Derrin Lamker to figure it out, although he too admits to some initial trepidation about Sheehan's stature.
"His height was a concern when we first recruited him," said Lamker, who took over as Augsburg head coach just before Sheehan's freshman season, "but he put that to rest in a hurry. It was his mental and physical toughness (Sheehan finished third in the state wrestling tournament as a senior) that stood out. And when he found lanes to throw the ball, he had an explosive arm. He knows when to throw and when to scramble, and how to find a first down."
Sheehan also knows how to make perceived slights work for him. He always has.
"I have a big chip on my shoulder," Sheehan said. "I always feel like I have something to prove, that height doesn't matter a whole lot. If you love the game and just go out there and play and have a good time, play for your teammates, it works and it's a lot of fun"
Things have worked out so well for Sheehan that by the time his career is over at Augsburg, either this year or next (he could opt for a fifth season, an allowance given those who played in the COVID-19 shortened season), he could go down as the Auggies' greatest quarterback ever. He's been hitting school records in climbing toward that status. Sheehan is tied with his current coach, former Augsburg star quarterback Lamker, for most touchdown passes in a game with six. He holds the record for the longest TD pass, 98 yards. That happened in the one and only game that Augsburg played in 2020, the COVID-19 ruined season.
Sheehan, who is second all-time in passing touchdowns in a single season with 29 in 2021 and fifth in single-season pass completions (214 in 2021), has thrown for a combined 4,832 yards and 53 touchdowns the last two years.
He's had a favorite season. That was last year when the Auggies finished 6-4 and for the first time in ages were a serious contender in the MIAC. Augsburg lost 34-30 to Gustavus Adolphus College in a contest that left it one win shy of playing for a conference title.
This is a different time to be an Auggies football player. A program that for so long wasn't being taken seriously has changed that narrative under Lamker and with Sheehan at quarterback.
It's been a golden time for Sheehan, who has two primary goals this season. No. 1 is for his team to win the MIAC title. Second is for him to be named the conference's top player.
Sheehan is confident that both can happen, pointing to 18 of 22 Augsburg starters being back from a year ago and him being told that he nearly won the league's MVP award last season.
"We take a lot of pride in Augsburg football," Sheehan said. "We are no slouch anymore. We're not the team you want to pick for your Homecoming game. We come out to play ball."
Lamker dreads the day that Sheehan will no longer be doing that for Augsburg. He's been a special one, in so many ways.
"He has a chance to smash every quarterback record we have here at Augsburg," Lamker said. "And I'm going to miss his personality and leadership. Everyone likes the kid. He's just a guy who everyone wants to play with. They'd run through a wall for him."