Rader hung around as a walk-on and figured he'd put in the needed work to get on scholarship at the end of the spring. He never made it, though, and blew out his left knee during a scrimmage.
"That was my low point," he said. "I really thought I could get a scholarship after the spring and I was having a pretty good spring until I tore my knee up.
"Then I didn't go on that year and it was pretty rough for me, but my parents picked me up out of the dumps and told me everything would work out and everything happens for a reason. They were right."
Rader was healthy enough to play during the season, but was too big to play tight end. He was moved back to the offensive line and then started to eat his way into shape.
"I blew up pretty fast," he said. "Once I knew I was back to the offensive line for good, I started going to the Chinese buffet a lot. I got up to about 305 pounds, but I've lost it now. I'm 292 and feeling really good."
Rader played in just three games last season, but made the most of the fresh start provided by the coaching change in the past spring practice. Eric Jobe's graduation opened a spot at right guard and Rader took control of the competition.
"Right place, right time," Rader said. "This system is what I ran in high school, so I feel pretty comfortable."
A few days after the spring game, Dana Holgorsen met with Rader for exit interviews and told him he was getting a scholarship. Rader texted offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh to say thanks and then called his parents to tell them the news.
"They were ecstatic," Rader said. "They didn't know what to say. My mom was yelling into the phone and my dad had to tell her to calm down. But it was great. I was waiting to make that phone call for four years."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.