Kaden Cordell's basketball season ended Feb. 17 with a tough loss in a play-in game to qualify for the postseason.
The next day, Cordell was planning to take it easy. The junior at Sonora (Texas)
traveled to a track and field meet to support his teammates.
"I went that day just to go watch the track meet and just enjoy track meets again, and they told me I was jumping," Cordell said. "That was a big surprise. High jump is a fun thing to do, so I just went out there and had fun and I ended up doing really, really good."
Cordell cleared 6 feet, 1 inch in his first meet of the season. He recorded a personal-best mark of 6-02 the previous year at the Region I-3A meet and just missed qualifying for the state tournament. The 16-year-old certainly set the bar for a solid season ahead.
"It's reassuring, because last year I think my first meet as a sophomore I cleared 5-10," Cordell said. "So already getting 3 inches better to start is just awesome."
Cordell's dad, Jeff, is the team's high jump coach. He sees a lot of potential in his son, who is a three-sport star and scholar student.
"He's still not where he needs to be as far as being technically sound," Jeff Cordell said. "But it's encouraging to know if we can tweak this or that he has the ability to go 3 or 4 inches even higher."Learn more about the MaxPreps US Marines program at www.maxpreps.com/marines
Kaden, who has been high jumping since seventh grade, cleared 6-02 last year at a Class 3A regional, placing third, just 1 inch shy of heading to state.
"He's a coachable kid," Jeff said. "We watch video of meets and film every practice and we look back at that and we make the adjustments we need to make and go from there."
Kaden also competes in the triple jump, as well as the 100- and 200-meter dashes. He's hoping to break the school record this season in the triple jump after leaping 42-00 in an early-season meet. The Sonora record is 43-10.
Kaden's early-season commitment has paid off, reaching 6-02 in the high jump at a meet on March 10. Tying his PR just makes him hungrier to get to Austin at the end of the season.
"Our track team is doing really, really good right now," Kaden said. "I'm just trying to get consistent in my jumps so that I can advance to state along with my other teammates, because we have a really, really good shot at winning the meet."
Along with being a standout track and field athlete, Kaden is also a phenomenal football player.
Sonora football coach David Sine coached a young quarterback in 1993 named Michael Bishop. Five years later, Bishop was a superstar at Kansas State and placed runner-up for the Heisman Trophy.
Sine has another flashy quarterback these days in Kaden. His coach sees plenty of similarities between Bishop and him.
"When you look at some of the plays both of them made, they're very similar," Sine said. "Michael had more athletic ability at that time, but he was a senior. The numbers that Kaden's putting up in high school are overwhelming. They're the best that I've ever had."
Kaden, who is 6-foot, 170 pounds, put up video game-like stats in his team's spread offense this past fall. He threw for 3,714 yards and 52 touchdowns. Yes, 52 touchdowns in just 14 games. He was 218-for-321 passing with only seven interceptions, helping lead his team to a 12-2 record before losing in overtime in the state quarterfinals.
Sine nicknamed his star quarterback "Houdini."
"He's a true magician on the field," Sine said. "His numbers don't really give you the whole package with Kaden. He was voted a team captain."
Kaden is a two-year starter at quarterback – throwing for 2,442 yards and 26 touchdowns as a sophomore -- and even plays free safety, logging 102 tackles a season ago. In a 53-35 victory over Tolar this past season, he was 27-for-39 for 481 yards and seven touchdowns through the air. He added 47 yards rushing, 10 yards receiving, 11 tackles and one interception.
"Kaden is truly the complete package when you combine athletic ability, mobility and smarts in regards to the passing game," Sine said. "Really, he's Houdini."
For his magnificent junior campaign, Cordell was named district MVP and second-team All-State by the Associated Press Sports Editors.
"It's crazy to think I was playing JV my freshman year and all of a sudden I get a year experience of varsity and the next year I'm district MVP," Kaden said. "I think that a lot had to do with the teammates that I had and the coaching staff."
Kaden – who holds five single-season school records and three career records -- is always going to deflect the limelight away from himself. He's humble and always wants others to receive the recognition.
"We give out helmet awards to our players every week and Kaden is a team player more so than I've possibly ever had before," Sine said. "He gives away his helmet award stickers. That speaks volumes about him."
On the basketball team, Kaden has been the starting point guard for two seasons. He finished his junior year by leading his team in points (14.1), rebounds (6.7) and assists (0.7). He shot 53.5 percent from the field for the year and was awarded the district defensive MVP.
Kaden's athletic achievements are just part of his impressive resume. He holds a 4.0 grade-point average and is ranked No. 3 in the Class of 2018.
His parents are overjoyed by the young man who has great character and is polite and kind.
"As parents what makes us proud is when the people that know Kaden and the people in the community talk about what a great young man he is," Jeff said. "We try to teach him right; he makes good decisions. He's a teenage kid that really does what he's supposed to."
Kaden is a first-year member of National Honor Society and takes part in Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He was awarded the district championship last year for UIL Number Sense to go along with competing in UIL computer science and mathematics events.
He even tries to find time to volunteer. Recently, Kaden has been heading over to Sonora Middle School to help students out with Number Sense and with their general studies.
He's been a busy kid, not taking too much time off for himself.
"How he has time to do his homework, I don't know," Jeff said. "He's never had a B on his report card."
Kaden's college plans are up in the air, but he still have one more year at Sonora. He plans to attend Junior Day at Texas State in April where he will compete in combine-like activities and drills. He's looking to attract interest from colleges and play football at the next level.
Being a quarterback with a 6-foot frame at a Class 3A school doesn't have colleges knocking down his door. But that won't deter him from his dream.
"D-I football is a major priority," Kaden said. "I would love to go and do that."
He doesn't just want to play Division I, he wants to stay in-state. Take notice, Baylor, Texas A&M and Texas.
"If they don't recruit him, it's their loss," Sine said. "I'm excited about the opportunities. I believe that he's got all of the tools to play Division I."Know an incredible student-athlete who stands out in sports and in life away from competition? Click here to nominate them for a chance to be featured on MaxPreps.