Cal Football

Hawk Schrider Born to be a Golden Bear

June 4, 2020
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If there was ever anyone born to be a Golden Bear, his name is Ben Hawk Schrider.

Raised in the shadow of legendary California Memorial Stadium, which is approaching it’s 100th anniversary in three short years, Hawk Schrider lived and breathed Cal football from the youngest of ages.

“My grandfather on my stepdad’s side was a huge Cal fan,” said Hawk Schrider. “Season tickets since probably the seventies or earlier. It was a big deal in our family. But originally, me and my father would go to Memorial when I was younger. I would go to games when I was probably three, four, five.

“I remember vividly, when I was six or seven, going to a practice, and after the practice was done, Coach Tedford was there and I remember Burl Toler coming up to me, Burl and Jeff McArthur, and they were just really nice.

“One day I was just sitting in the stands. It used to be that the players would walk up the stairs because the locker room was in the stadium, but I would sit on those stairs at the bottom. So they’d be coming through.

“During one practice, Burl and Geoff McArthur sat with me and just kind of talked to me, and after practice, Aaron Rodgers was throwing and had me come down on the field. It was late, it was dark, and he was throwing with me on the field. And this was before Aaron Rodgers was a household name. I mean he was good, but this was before everyone knew him. So for me, it’s like I was this little kid and I would see these guys on Saturdays on TV.

“Obviously they were playing really well, and it was the coolest thing for a kid that’s seven years old to do that. Eventually Coach Tedford helped us get on the practice list with Dawg, so we’d be able to go when they closed the practices and stuff and I’d still get to watch. So for me, Cal football was everything.”

Hawk Schrider’s fixation on the Bears wasn’t only an occasional thing. It was a full-time occupation.

“When I would write in my journal for our second-grade assignment, you had to write in your journal to practice writing- I’d write the Cal roster down. I still remember #1 was Worrell Williams. Another #1, I think was Noah Smith. I still remember to this day. So I really became obsessed with Cal football. I was just this little kid, and that’s really where it all started for me. Ever since then, it’s stayed the same.”

Toler went on from his days as a Cal player to be a coach at Cal -first as a running backs coach, then as a receivers coach -his current position. So it’s come full circle for Hawk Schrider, seeing his relationship with Toler evolve from his being a player to being on staff for the program he played for senior season.

“Burl was always very close to me,” said Hawk Schrider. “He would come and read at my school, too. He’d come to my school and I’d be like, ‘Yeah, I know this guy.’ It was kind of cool for me.

“I’ve always loved Cal so much, and it had already been in my family. My mom went to grad school at Cal; my stepfather went to Cal; my grandfather went to Cal; my grandmother went to Cal. So it was already a big thing, but this connection with Cal football—that was where it really started.”

When Hawk-Schrider starred at local St. Mary’s High in Berkeley, he was on the Bears’ radar, though a scholarship offer was never extended.

“So for me, in terms of recruiting,” said Hawk-Schrider, “I was recruited by Cal. They were talking to me pretty extensively at one point, because I had some offers out of high school. I had Fresno State and UTEP, and actually Coach Browning recruited me at UTEP and Burl recruited me at Fresno State, which is kind of like a small full circle.

Obviously, I would have loved to go to Cal out of high school but I didn’t get the opportunity, so I went elsewhere. But I did go to camps and things like that.”

Elsewhere ended up being Richmond then Tennessee-Chatanooga in 2016, where he compiled 73 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 4 1/2 sacks, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, five quarterback hurries, one pass breakup and one pass defended during his time there.

“I loved it in Chatanooga,” said Hawk Schrider. It was definitely different from Berkeley. So growing up in Berkeley, going to Tennessee Chattanooga… it’s definitely different. But for me, it was just one of those experiences where I got to immerse myself in a culture that was so different than the culture that I was originally from. I feel like I grew so much, and I think that’s what college is all about. It’s growing and having a growth experience where you’re going outside your comfort zone, and you’re learning new things, and you’re around people who are from completely different places than you. So for me, that was such an amazing experience.

“I had a lot of coaching turnover there. I think I had four position coaches. It was a lot. Obviously that was tough at times, but in terms of the school and the football program and the people there, I loved Chattanooga, and I couldn’t say enough great things about that school and the experience that the student gets there. They didn’t have a grad school program that was suited for me, but I was lucky enough to go to grad school at Cal. But Chattanooga is always my alma mater. I love Cal; Cal will always be my school, too, because that’s where I first started, but Chattanooga’s something that I hold very close to my heart and I’m always gonna be a big Mocs fan.”

Hawk Schrider finished his Cal career with 21 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and one fumble recovery in 12 games in his lone season as a Bear.

Now that his final collegiate season’s a half a year in the rear view mirror, Hawk Schrader has had a chance to look back on the opportunity he had to fulfill his dream of wearing blue and gold as a player in Memorial Stadium and working towards earning a graduate degree from Cal.

“I always think back like, ‘Did I really do that? I got to play for Cal?’” said Hawk Schrider.

“When I first came in there in May and I was doing workouts and stuff, my mindset was just… I knew Cal was a much bigger program. It was a place where there were a lot of really good athletes. My goal really was just to work. Work as hard as I can, and make the travel squad. That was my goal. I felt like everything—just being there, being able to go to UC Berkeley, getting into grad school, and stuff at UC Berkeley—that was the best thing in itself. So everything past that was more than I could’ve ever dreamed of.

“I think the biggest part for me was just the people and the culture of the team. I obviously loved Cal, but the culture and the people in the program was just second to none. From the coaches to the players. I’d never been on a team that had such camaraderie, that felt like I got to glide into it. I felt like I was part of the team within a week. I had known some guys; I mean I grew up with Henry Bazakas and I had known some other guys on the team, but just the friends and the relationships I made—that was the best part.

“In terms of playing, just being able to actually play as much as I got to, even though having some injuries here and there was tough. I was getting old. It was just the opportunity that I got to play, and I’m really appreciative of them giving me the opportunity to show them what I could do and putting me in the position that it did. I say this, and I’ll probably say it for the rest of my life: it was a dream come true. I feel like I’ll never lose that full-circle effect.”

Hawk Schrider got his first chance to see action as a Bear early in the season, though it started slowly.

“I played in the Davis game, but nothing really happened,” said Hawk-Schrider. “At Washington, Tevin (Paul) and Cam(Goode) were really good outside linebackers, and I think one of them was banged up that game, like mid-game. I think I had to play the rest of the game.

The senior transfer LB took full advantage of the opportunity, scooping up a fumble after Husky QB Jacob Eason coughed up the ball after a massive hit by senior LB Evan Weaver in the third quarter.

“Obviously the fumble recovery was definitely a lot of fun,” said Hawk Schrider. “I say Weaver did 99.99% of that play. That was a great sack. I just saw it and fell on it. I mean it was a blessing to fall on it. But I tell Weaver all the time, he’s the one who gave me that statistic. That was definitely probably my first big play as a Bear.”

Another big moment for Hawk Schrider came in the opportunity to start the last game of his collegiate career in Cal’s Red Box Bowl victory over Illinois in December.

“It was an awesome experience,” said the former Cal LB. “It was my last college game. I think I had forty to fifty people there.

“It was tough, I’ll say that, because I think on the second drive, I felt good… I had had some injury problems with my knee, but I was feeling really good. I think in the second drive, I got a pretty bad ankle sprain. My ankle got tucked under me and I felt like it snapped. But we were short, and obviously, this is my last game ever, so they wrapped it up for me.

“To be honest, that’s a film I’m not very interested in watching because I held my own, I could take on the run blocks, but I really struggled in pass coverage because I couldn’t cut. So in my opinion, I didn’t play very well. I think I held my own and I did what I had to do, but that was definitely the most painful game I played in. But that experience in itself—it was my opportunity so I had to take it, but just having that opportunity to play and be a part of that win… That’s another thing; I got to play in front of my family at the 49ers stadium. It was awesome.”

Another high point was being a part of Cal’s Big Game victory at Stanford -their first since the transfer LB was a kid in 2009.

“I have to say, that’s definitely gonna be my favorite experience in my Cal time,” said Hawk-Schrider. “2018, I watched the Big Game in Chattanooga, and I would’ve never known that a year later I’d be playing. It didn’t even cross my mind. I thought I would still be at Chattanooga. So playing in that Big Game was amazing. Just the atmosphere and how close it was and the Cal fans… That was the best part, the support we had, and I felt like we had more fans than Stanford. At least we were louder. That was just the best part of it. Then being on the field after the game and everything like that…

“A lot of my family and close friends were there. One of the quality control coaches from Stanford was my coach at Chattanooga in 2018 and I got to see him, which was cool, and he was definitely happy for me. I actually never got to be in the locker room after the game that much because I was out on the field so long that I missed all of Coach Wilcox’s speech and everything. But I eventually got in there, got a picture with the axe and everything. You know, I’d been waiting ten years for that, so if I didn’t play football, I would’ve been one of the fans running out on the field, hugging players and stuff. I watch the replay of that game all the time.”

Now that he’s graduated, Hawk Schrider can objectively view the team’s prospects for 2020 and he’s bullish on what the veteran-laden team can accomplish this season.

“I think that this is the year,” said Hawk Schrider. “I think we’re loaded on both sides of the ball. With Weaver gone and Ashtyn gone and JHawk gone, obviously that’s gonna hurt, but I think we’re really deep. That DB room’s got a lot of really good players. I’m so excited. On defense, we lose a few, but on offense, we maybe lose one (WR Jordan Duncan)? I’m really excited about this year. Hopefully we can get the green light to play, but I’m super excited for this year.”

Even though All-American LB Evan Weaver and Hawk Schrider have moved on, the Berkeley native sees a lot of potential in the returning linebacker corps.

“I think that room’s gonna be really good,” said Hawk-Schrider. “I’m excited about Orin (Patu). Last year he redshirted, but when you think about it, he’s in the program for a while now. Really good kid. I think his next season is gonna be a big one for him. I think his pass rush, fundamentals, how he can bend around the quarterback is gonna be really effective. I think Curley’s (Young) gonna continue to grow and develop. He’s looking a lot bigger and everything. He’s really, really strong. And then Braxten (Croteau)—I don’t know how they’ll use him exactly, but he’s 18 years old and I would think he’s 25. Just the way he carries himself and his maturity and his dedication and work ethic. But a lot of that culture—you know, these kids come in and they’ve learned that from the older guys. Cam and Elijah, those are the hardest working players I’ve seen, that I’ve ever played with, and that gets emulated down the line. These young guys coming in, they’re gonna see that and they’re just gonna do the same thing.

“I’ve seen Isaiah Young; he’s kind of doing the same thing, just working hard. I can already tell. I just think the culture is such an underrated value, but the culture you have in your program just makes you so much better as a team.”

Hawk Schrider likes what he’s seen from the young inside linebackers, as well.

“I’m definitely excited about them,” said Hawk Schrider. “Tatt (Evan Tattersall), Blake (Antzoulatos), (Ryan) Puskas… I think they’re playing for one of the best defensive coaches in the country, and I think KD (Kuony Deng) is gonna be a really good leader for whoever is gonna be in the middle with him. I think they got to sit behind the best middle linebacker in the country, in my opinion, last year. So they got to learn a lot. I’m excited about that position because it’s gonna be a young guy, but I think they’re gonna be ready.”

The fact that the Cal staff has so many coaches with high-level coaching experience is not lost on Hawk Schrider and what it can mean for a defense’s performance.

“We have four defensive coordinators on the staff, I think,” said Hawk Schrider. “I mean, that’s pretty rare. There’s so much experience and knowledge. Coach (Peter) Sirmon -he wasn’t my position coach, but you could learn so much from him. Just talking to these coaches, you get a good feeling of, ‘These guys know what they’re doing and how this works.’ I feel like I learned more about defense in the last year than I did in my whole football career.”

Now that his bucket list is checked and his dream of playing for Cal has been fulfilled, complete with a Cal degree, Hawk Schrider’s moving on to the next phase of his life and it still involves the gridiron.

“Right now, obviously with coronavirus, everything’s up in the air. But as of right now I’m the D Coordinator at Saint Mary’s High School,” said Hawk Schrider of his high school alma mater. “I took that opportunity, so it’s just kind of been working and doing installs and stuff like that. So I’ll probably be coaching some high school ball.

“Eventually I really want to get into teaching and stuff like that, so probably everything will be from the high school level, because I just have a passion for seeing growth and development with kids. So I’m kind of in the process of figuring out stuff like that for next year.”

If his passion achieved by following his dreams is any indication, the coming years hold a lot of promise for this sturdy Golden Bear.

More stories:

LB Cameron Goode Looks to be Productive and Healthy in 2020

Johnson Talks Journey, Upcoming 6th Season With Bears

Discussion from...

Hawk Schrider Born to be a Golden Bear

2,614 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by concernedparent
chazzed
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I had no idea about Hawk's background. Cool information and good luck to the the young man!
Big C
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Great story! If the news of the nation and the world has got you down the past few months, this will pick you up a little bit!
82gradDLSdad
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Nice story. Good writing.
concernedparent
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He was a pretty damn good football player for us.
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