Patriots’ Brenden Schooler In Line For Roster Spot After ‘Crazy’ Football Journey

'The best way I can describe it is a crazy roller-coaster ride'


Aug 24, 2022

HENDERSON, Nev. — Change has been the only constant in Brenden Schooler’s football career.

Four California high schools in four years.

Three big-time college football programs.

Six (!) head coaches across those three college stops.

Two different primary positions: safety and wide receiver.

And, now, a maiden NFL summer that appears destined to end with a spot on the New England Patriots’ 53-man roster.

“The best way I can describe it is a crazy roller-coaster ride,” Schooler said after Tuesday’s joint practice with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Meeting with the New England media for the first time, Schooler recapped that wild journey, beginning with his school-a-year preps career.

“It wasn’t like I was chasing playing time,” the 25-year-old said. “It just worked out like that. I wanted to play at a high school that my dad was coaching at, but that was like 30 minutes away from my house. Then I came back here, this head coach left, went to a different (school) that my friend told me about that he was playing at.

“Kind of just hot potato like that. I just wanted the best opportunity to show out on the best team to get to the next level.”

Initially lightly recruited, Schooler eventually landed a late scholarship offer from Oregon. He quickly impressed after joining the Ducks, with his defensive backs coach telling The Oregonian during his freshman season that he “practices like Usain Bolt runs.”

Schooler had 74 tackles and four interceptions as a freshman in 2016, then switched to receiver, catching 20 passes in 2017 and 21 in 2018. He also earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors as a special teamer in both of those seasons, showcasing the kicking-game talent that later would put him on a certain NFL franchise’s radar.

After an injury wiped out most of his 2019 season, Schooler transferred to Arizona, where his brother was playing at the time, then quickly jumped to Texas. He played out his final two collegiate seasons in Austin — one as a receiver and one as a safety.

During his stints at Oregon, Arizona and Texas, Schooler played under head coaches (deep breath) Mark Helfrich, Willie Taggart, Mario Cristobal, Kevin Sumlin, Tom Herman and Steve Sarkisian, requiring him to annually adjust to a new scheme and culture.

“You pick up on different terminology,” Schooler said. “You learn how to adapt and change on the fly. So I think it’s obviously kind of helped me get where I am today — be versatile, be flexible and change on the go.”

Recognizing him as a potential impact player on special teams, the Patriots contacted Schooler before the draft and set up a private workout with coaches Cam Achord and Joe Houston. He remained in “steady contact” with Achord and Houston, and when his name wasn’t called during the 2022 draft, signing with New England as a UDFA was a “no-brainer.”

“Having them reach out to me, seeing how I was doing, showing they cared, I think that was the nicest part about it,” said Schooler, who displayed elite athleticism at his Texas pro day. “They took the initiative. They believed in me. Having that, it was a good feeling, and wanting to come play for them and wanting to do well for them I think also led to the decision to come here.”

Schooler also jumped at the opportunity to learn from special teams stalwarts like Matthew Slater, Cody Davis and Justin Bethel. He’s been glued to Slater and Davis since spring practice, running through specialized kicking game drills with the veteran duo on a daily basis. Schooler also made a point to introduce himself to Nate Ebner when the ex-Patriots special teamer visited a practice last week.

“It’s been nothing short of an awesome experience,” Schooler said. “Those guys have played a lot of snaps on special teams. Once they speak up in the meeting room, you kind of just put your pencil down and listen to what they’re about to say, because they’re probably going to drop some knowledge that I didn’t know already. It’s been awesome. I can’t picture anything better than this situation right now.”

Schooler is putting that knowledge to good use. Now a mainstay on several of the Patriots’ top special teams units, he’s delivered impact plays in each of his first two preseason games, dropping a returner inside the 15-yard line in one and cleaning out multiple defenders with a single block in another. He even grabbed an interception to close out last week’s win over the Carolina Panthers.

“(He has) all the makings of being a really good veteran player someday,” veteran safety Devin McCourty said last week.

Like Slater and Davis, Schooler is unlikely to see any meaningful playing time on offense or defense for New England. But he seems to have all but locked up a roster spot with one preseason game remaining (Friday night at the Raiders).

For once in his career, Schooler should be here to stay.

“Looking back at it, I wouldn’t change it for anything,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, we’re here right now, living out the dream I had as a kid.”’s coverage of New England Patriots preseason is presented by Cross Insurance, protecting your team since 1954.

Thumbnail photo via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images
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