"It was great," McDade said of his trip. "Coach [Pat] Hill and all the coaches are real cool. Coach Hill is an amazing guy. He has so much energy, that's what I love about him. Robbie Rouse was my host; he showed me a good time.
"The facilities and school are good. I like how it's not too big and everything is close together. They set you up for success in the classroom not just on the field. They graduate 80% of their players. You have to really try to fail there." It was McDade's second visit to Fresno State after taking in the San Jose State game in October.
He is considered one of the top quarterbacks in the Golden State despite not playing until his senior year. As a junior, he backed up current Oregon State quarterback Cody Vaz. But after a strong spring camp circuit, McDade was one of eight under the radar quarterbacks invited to compete in the reality TV show The Ride.
"That was great for me," said McDade. "Those coaches up there, they know what they were talking about. I got to go to Philadelphia for the first time. I meant a lot of good quarterbacks out there. They weren't too cocky, just in the same boat as me, trying to get their name out."
McDade made into the second round of the show. The winner earned a spot in the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio, which took place on Sunday. While he was disappointed he didn't win the competition, he feels his best days are ahead of him.
"When I got eliminated, I was thinking I'm young right now but in four years, I would have separation [from the other seven]," said McDade.
At Fresno State, he has an opportunity to earn a spot on the depth chart as a true freshman. Hill has not ruled out redshirting freshman Derek Carr leaving Ebahn Feathers as the only scholarship quarterback behind starter Ryan Colburn. The move would allow Carr the chance to become a three-year starter, while giving McDade a shot to backup Colburn in 2010.
"Coach Hill said that it's possible that I could be a backup quarterback," said McDade. "I'm going have to work at it. I think where I fit in is just to come in and show what I have. I feel confident I can play at the level. I might redshirt but it's just a process right now. Probably, what's best for me is to redshirt and learn the offense.
"The [coaches] said I have a good arm. They like that I did well my first year [at St. Mary's]. They say I fit in their program well, my mechanics, my timing."
Fresno State started recruiting McDade in early September when most schools were still feeling him out as a high school starter. No one recruited him in the spring. College coaches came to watch him throw, but when they asked for film, there was none. It hurt his stock not playing as a junior but by midseason a handful of schools were taking notice. "I was talking to LSU, Memphis and Washington State was looking to grayshirt me and San Jose State too," he added.
Fresno State is his first and only offer to date but McDade is content with the Bulldogs. "I think the recruiting process for me is pretty much done," he said. He has no more visits scheduled.
He does admit Fresno State was not a school he was initially considering.
"Fresno State caught me by surprise. I never really thought about going there," said McDade. "No one else came; it gave me a chance to look at them. I just love the coaches up there. It was kind of important to me to be close to home so my dad can come see me play."
McDade does have a few things he needs to address before he contends for any playing time. While possessing one of the strongest arms in the country, he tends to put a bit too much mustard on his slant routes.
"I need to take some off the ball and work on my reads," he said. "I'm going to have to adjust to the pro-style offense and work on my footwork."
McDade ran a version of the spread offense at St. Mary's, where he threw for nearly 2,500 yards with 31 touchdowns and only two interceptions in 2009 while leading the Rams to an 11-1 record.
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