After battling injuries, York County quarterback ready for 'new beginning' at D1 school

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Cade Pribula called it a new beginning.

At the school that was there at the beginning.

When the former Central York quarterback announced at the end of April he was entering the transfer portal after three seasons at Delaware, one of the first schools he heard from was Sacred Heart. The Division I FCS school in Connecticut was the first school to offer him a scholarship the spring of his junior year of high school.

But the answer was different this time. Pribula announced his decision to transfer to Sacred Heart over the weekend. While he's preparing to graduate from Delaware this month, Pribula will potentially have four years of eligibility as works toward a master's degree in business administration.

"They've believed in me since I was a junior in high school," Pribula said. "It's something I think about a lot, starting my career again as a grad student. But it's a new beginning to my football career and a better opportunity for me."

More on the Pribula family: The best quarterbacks around? They're brothers. How they make greatness together

Central York quarterback Cade Pribula (3) drops back to pass during a YAIAA Division I football game at Northeastern High School on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. The Central York Panthers beat the Northeastern Bobcats, 44-7.
Central York quarterback Cade Pribula (3) drops back to pass during a YAIAA Division I football game at Northeastern High School on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. The Central York Panthers beat the Northeastern Bobcats, 44-7.

The YAIAA's record-holder in career passing yards, Pribula was the lone quarterback in Delaware's Class of 2019 recruiting class. But after redshirting his first season, he only appeared in one game ― without attempting a pass ― the past two seasons. The head coach who recruited him, Danny Rocco, was fired this past season and replaced by former Delaware quarterback Ryan Carty.

Delaware starting quarterback Nolan Henderson still has two years of eligibility remaining despite already being at the school five years ― due to a medical redshirt this past year and the extra year given to all athletes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That makes Pribula's decision to transfer an understandable one. He'll be eligibility to play immediately at Sacred Heart as a graduate transfer.

But Pribula also battled injuries during his time at Delaware that prevented him from potentially climbing the depth chart. He declined to go into specifics, but confirmed he dealt with shoulder injuries that caused him to miss seasons and offseason practices due to surgeries and rehab. He did not practice at all this past spring.

"Despite that, when I've had my chances in practice I've had success," Pribula said. "Those experiences make you hone in on who you are as a person. When I get a chance to play, I'll have a clear perspective."

Still, Pribula received offers from Sacred Heart and Monmouth within the first two weeks after he entered the portal. Rather than wait for more offers to come in, Pribula said he felt comfortable with the school that had been interested in him the longest. Sacred Heart was also the first school to offer his brother, Beau, a full scholarship when the current Penn State Nittany Lion was still a freshman.

Pribula also said Sacred Heart was accepting of the fact that he is currently rehabbing an injury and isn't guaranteed to be ready for the start of the season. Still, Pribula said he thinks he could play at some point this upcoming season and hopes he won't miss the entire campaign.

He already has two years of standard eligibility remaining, plus his COVID year and potentially a medical redshirt for last season. When he entered the portal, Pribula said he "owed" it to himself to play as long as possible.

"Rehabbing is similar to working out," he said. "You're seeing progress and this injury I'm going through isn't something that will hold me back. If I'm not ready for camp, I think Ill be ready at some point this season and I'll be useful."

Related: After a day in the limelight, Penn State commit Beau Pribula 'can't wait' for competition

Central York quarterback Cade Pribula (3) runs the ball against Red Lion's Justin Dillion (27) during a game at Central York on Friday, September 14, 2018. The Red Lion Lions beat the Central York Panthers, 56-28.
Central York quarterback Cade Pribula (3) runs the ball against Red Lion's Justin Dillion (27) during a game at Central York on Friday, September 14, 2018. The Red Lion Lions beat the Central York Panthers, 56-28.

Sacred Heart is coming off an 8-4 season in which it won the Northeast Conference and qualified for the FCS playoffs. It was the second straight season the Pioneers accomplished those feats. They lost to Delaware in the FCS playoffs during the shortened 2021 spring season that took place after COVID wiped out the 2020 FCS season.

Sacred Heart quarterback Marquez McCray is a St. Joseph's Prep grad who will be a fifth-year senior this fall. Sacred Heart had nine quarterbacks listed on its 2021 roster, but only one other saw playing time. The Pioneers did not list any quarterbacks in the signing class they announced this school year.

"They offered me soon after I got in the portal. They don't even need a QB but they see me as the QB for the next two years (after this season)," Pribula said. "I like that I'm walking into a winning program. They've won the conference and made the playoffs and I think I can help take them to the next level of winning in the playoffs."

Pribula knows a number of Sacred Heart players from playing in the 2019 Big 33 game, but he's also grown up with another new teammate. Sacred Heart rising sophomore linebacker Jack Smith lived across the street from him in York and is Beau's best friend.

Jack Smith (9) will be once again be teammates with Cade Pribula after growing up in the same neighborhood as him.
Jack Smith (9) will be once again be teammates with Cade Pribula after growing up in the same neighborhood as him.

A 6-foot-1, 208-pound pocket passer, Pribula set the York County records for career touchdown passes (66) and career passing yards (6,733) in high school. As a senior, he threw for 2,866 yards, 31 touchdowns and just nine interceptions.

While he's set to earn his undergrad degree in finance, he's interested in becoming a football coach in the future.

"I love football and I hope to stay around the game," Pribula said after he entered the portal. "But football is not who I am. It's just what I do."

Matt Allibone is a sports reporter for GameTimePA. He can be reached at 717-881-8221, mallibone@ydr.com or on Twitter at @bad2theallibone.

This article originally appeared on York Daily Record: Central York's Cade Pribula transfers from Delaware to Sacred Heart