Spencer Shrader, kicker-entrepreneur, proceeds boldly to Notre Dame
SOUTH BEND — In South Florida transfer Spencer Shrader, it isn’t entirely clear whether Notre Dame has secured an experienced replacement for placekicker Blake Grupe or a visiting lecturer for the Mendoza College of Business.
Maybe the answer is both.
At 23, Shrader is a budding entrepreneur/influencer whose eclectic bio already includes numerous examples of his self-professed approach to life and business – Proceeding Boldly. He co-opted that phrase, which doubles as the name of his YouTube channel and a website, from the influential Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973), who once wrote: “Do not give into evil but proceed ever more boldly against it.”
Shrader, who has called von Mises “a personal hero,” started “Proceeding Boldly” in May of 2018 as an outgoing senior at Newsome High School in Lithia, Fla., about 40 minutes east of Tampa.
Homeschooled in Indiana during his early years, Shrader is president of The Liberty Villages, a faith-based nonprofit his parents founded. Its stated mission is building Christian-based communities devoted to education, entrepreneurship, freedom and peace.
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A skilled photographer and graphic artist who designed his own “PB” logo for Proceeding Boldly, Shrader is also the founder of CopperFox Technologies, which does brand design, web development and sales-force integration.
Along with his sister, Sophie, who played soccer at the University of Tampa, Shrader has operated a personal-training business for speed and agility.
An elite-level striker who was a U-13 soccer teammate of Andrew Mevis, the Warsaw, Ind., product who went on to kick for Iowa State, Shrader lived with host families in Brazil and Victoria, B.C., as he chased his dream of a career in professional soccer.
Fresh out of high school, Shrader spent three months training at a Brazilian soccer academy but was unable to earn a contract, partly due to injury. He trekked to western Canada that fall to train with a soccer development program that had a connection to German club teams, but that didn’t work out either.
Back home in Florida, he put together a recruiting tape of his high school soccer and placekicking exploits and sent it to the coaching staffs at South Florida. He could have played either sport for the Bulls, but he chose a walk-on opportunity in football, which he’d only come to by accident in his final high school season.
“Football was crazy because it was new, it was scary,” Shrader said on his YouTube video. “I had so little experience with it … and that’s ultimately why I decided to go with that route. After all, that is what ‘Proceeding Boldly’ is about.”
In four seasons with the Bulls, Shrader made 28 of 40 field-goal attempts (70%), with a career-long of 52 yards. Five of those misses came as a freshman in 2019, and his improved accuracy later produced a streak where he made 13 of 14 attempts.
At 6-foot-2 and 183 pounds, he’s more athletic than your typical kicker. His career highlights include a 22-yard touchdown run on a fake field goal against Connecticut (2019) as well as a 7-yard reception.
His surprise sweep on a fake punt against Wisconsin in his college debut didn’t go as well, but at least Shrader can laugh about it.
“I got absolutely blown up by a Wisconsin linebacker,” he said on his YouTube channel. “I came off the edge and I just got smacked. It was all over the media. … That may have been the start of my YouTube career.”
Shrader has already kicked at Notre Dame Stadium — briefly. As a South Florida sophomore in 2020, on a sunny 62-degree September afternoon, he handled the opening kickoff in a 52-0 loss for the Bulls.
Chris Tyree fielded the short kick at the Notre Dame 16 and returned it 14 yards. That would be the extent of Shrader’s contributions for the day.
Shrader’s touchback rate over his final two seasons at USF was 72% (83 of 115). In 2022 he improved that to 80.7% (50 of 62), which ranked fourth nationally.
Freshman walk-on Zac Yoakam, who stepped in for injured freshman Bryce McFerson as the kickoff specialist, has a touchback rate of 61.5% on his 65 kickoffs. That ranked 38th nationally.
Follow Notre Dame football writer Mike Berardino on Twitter @MikeBerardino.