But incoming East Tennessee State freshman Cade Larkins is putting his best foot forward, like he did throughout his record-breaking career at David Crockett.
And the 6-foot-1, 208-pound quarterback believes the Bucs are on the right path for success.
“I am supremely confident in what the program has to offer,” he said. “ETSU has a chance to make some real noise.”
Larkins has been hitting the weights for a physical boost and poring over the playbook for mental acuity.
“I have a weight set in my house and I have been lifting every day,” he said. “I’ve stayed on a plan and have pretty much been doing everything I can to get in the best shape before I get to ETSU. I am throwing every chance I get and doing a lot of mental stuff, like studying the playbook.”
Larkins has received guidance on how to prepare for the season.
“They’ve given us a plan,” he said. “I’m pushing it hard. I’m really just trying to get my body in shape.”
June 7 was supposed to be Larkins’ reporting date, but like most things in the pandemic world it’s a wait-and-see situation.
“I really have no idea,” he said. “But I would love to be able to do it.”
When the time comes for him to begin practice with the Bucs, Larkins said there are two things he will carry into the fray. He said he will be solid where he is and hungry for where he could be.
“I am always confident in my game,” he said. “But I’m also the type of person who is never satisfied. There is always something I can get better on.”
Larkins certainly displayed the desire to keep getting better at the high school level. He finished as the state’s No. 2 all-time passer with 11,042 yards, falling just 80 short of the top spot, and he ranks No. 23 on the all-time national list. He also threw 105 touchdown passes, good enough for sixth on Tennessee’s all-time list.
In 2019, Larkins passed for 2,859 yards with 34 touchdowns as the Pioneers went 7-4, closing the season with four gut-wrenching losses.
This spring, Larkins has been throwing with a teammate or his brother when the opportunity presents itself.
“I’m still getting some throwing in, but at the same time it’s hard because fields aren’t available,” he said.