Cade Collenback had his mind set on playing college baseball going into his senior year.
The O’Connor first baseman was coming off an impressive junior season where he earned All-District 28-6A honors after batting .360 with 27 RBIs and two home runs. College coaches were taking notice and with a little more seasoning, Collenback was thinking better opportunities would come his way.
However, the plans changed after football season where the center began drawing interest attention for his dependability on the Panthers’ punting team. Instead of going deep, snapping deep became more appealing.
When Tyler Junior College came calling, Collenback was more than eager to go that route.
TJC, which competes in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference, appears to be the ideal situation.
Collenback was impressed with coach Thomas Rocco and the overall program. He also likes the idea of fine-tuning his craft at the junior college level and possibly carrying it to the NCAA Division I level when his time with the Apaches is over.
“It’s a great place,” said Collenback, who was considering playing baseball at Cisco College before choosing the Apaches. “They have a really great football program. Coach Rocco is really passionate about the program. I’m the only deep snapper they signed so I have a chance to go in there and play right away.”
The Apaches appear to have plenty of faith in Collenback and for good reason.
During his time with the Panthers, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Collenback never had a snap off the mark. He also worked at center on O’Connor’s offense and was efficient on short snaps as well.
“Cade has the skill set,” Rocco said. “He came highly-recommended. The film spoke for itself. He has a great background. We were impressed with the way Cade carried himself. We think he’s going to contribute on and off the field. We have had some pretty good ones in the past, but where he is right now. Cade might be the most talented for his age.”
Even though playing football is his future, baseball remains special.
Because his father is O’Connor coach David Collenback, he’s been around the sport his entire life. That’s why playing the final season with his dad means a great deal.
So far, things are going well. O’Connor is off to a 10-3-1 (2-0 in District 28-6A) start. Collenback is doing his part with a .355 average and eight RBIS while keeping first base secure.
“It was important to play baseball this year,” Collenback said. “I love playing for my dad. The first year was really weird. Every at bat I felt if I got out, I let my dad down.
“But he helped a lot. He’s always been there for me. I went to the cage every night and worked harder. I felt I proved myself last year. I want to come out this year and do better.”
The elder Collenback is happy to have his son for a final season.
“I tell you I was scared to death last year when we started playing baseball, unsure if Cade had what it took,” David Collenback said. “He came through the year batting .360. He had an excellent game in the field as well. This year we moved him to the four-five hole from seven last year. He has continued where he left off. He is one of our team leaders as well. I am really proud of the career he has had at O’Connor High School.”
Dad is also pleased with his college choice.
“This way he can concentrate only on deep snapping,” Collenback said. “Tyler has proven they send athletes to major DI colleges. Their last (deep snapper) signed with University of Houston. His lofty goal is to snap on Sundays. You never know what’s in store. You will never reach your goals if you don’t make them.”