Working towards the dream

Del Rio High School graduate Shane Creamer had a busy spring for the University of Houston Cougars. Aside from being named as a special teams captain, Creamer, who is listed as a tight end on the Cougars’ depth chart, was also put on full scholarship by the school after beginning his collegiate career as a preferred walk-on.

From being on the scout team to earning a full scholarship, Shane Creamer’s path in collegiate football is a tale of never giving up on your dream.

Creamer, 20, lives just outside of the small town of Comstock, about 30 miles west of Del Rio. And just outside is the proper description because the family homestead sits just beyond the Comstock city limits.

Creamer wound up at Del Rio High School because the Rams offered more in terms of athletics. At Del Rio High, the tall country boy could play baseball and football and excelled at both. He was all-district in baseball and football and all-state in football.

He committed to play football at the University of Houston and joined the Cougars football team as a preferred walk-on. That status meant he would have to pay for his own schooling, but he wouldn’t have to do the same things other walk-ons would be required to do.

“Basically I was given the chance to try and earn a scholarship. Just me and one other guy were preferred walk-ons, and he wound up leaving the program,” Creamer said.

In his first year with the program, Creamer was basically limited to working on the scout team. “I knew what I was going to do. Really, my first year I was still trying to get weight on,” Creamer said.

In his second year with the program, Creamer, who is listed on the depth chart as a tight end, played on the Cougars special teams. “I started two games and played about 12 to 15 plays during the season,” Creamer said.

The Cougars’ 2018-19 season was full of ups and downs. At one point Houston was 7-1 and ranked in the top 10 in the nation. Then Houston dropped three of its last four regular season games and ended its season with a 70-14 loss to Army in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

Then Creamer’s football life got turned upside down. Head coach Major Applewhite was out, former West Virginia head coach Dana Holgerson was named the new head coach, and a new batch of coaches arrived in Houston.

Creamer was uncertain of his place in the program, but it did not deter him.

“It was kind of scary. I had developed a strong relationship with my old coaches and felt I was on my way to a scholarship with those guys. With the new staff, I knew I had to work to get back on the same level, and that started with the winter workouts,” Creamer said. “I think the coaches really started noticing what I was doing at those workouts. Week after week I was working hard and it helped me to stand out. Going into spring ball, I was named a captain on special teams and stayed with the first teamers. I learned the calls and learned how to take care of my body. I always had good hands, but I was going out there and making plays and catching balls.”

Spring football means a limited amount of practice time, but it also means the annual spring football game. Creamer said Holgerson treated the game as another practice, but Creamer treated it as one more chance to make an impression on his coaches.

“I feel like I had a great spring game. I scored a touchdown and that was a great moment,” Creamer said.

Once spring football was done, Creamer and his teammates had an end of season meeting with the coaches and said he walked away with the thought he’d be able to fight to try and earn a scholarship this coming season.

Turns out he didn’t have to wait that long.

“I was working out at the gym and I got a phone call. Normally I wouldn’t answer calls from numbers I don’t know, but this one was from West Virginia, so I knew it was probably one of my coaches. Turns out it was Coach Dorchester,” Creamer said.

Dorchester is the assistant athletics director for football operations at Houston. He oversees player personnel issues including things like compliance and status of scholarship offers.

“Coach is the one who told me congratulations and they were putting me on full scholarship. I just sat down and was at a loss for words. No one I knew was around, so I couldn’t tell anyone. First thing I did was I prayed and thanked God. I couldn’t believe what was happening,” Creamer said. “To be honest, there were days when I was at school and told myself I can’t take four more years of this. All the obstacles, all the difficulties, it really made you wonder where you’re at and why you’re here. After I was told about the scholarship I called my best friend on the team – Tre’Von Bradley – and told him. He always believed in me and always said he wasn’t sure why I wasn’t on scholarship yet.”

Creamer took to social media to make the announcement public. In a short video, Creamer was fired up as he told friends, family and Cougar Nation that “Your boy ‘88’ just got put on full scholarship! Let’s go!”

“My family went through a range of emotions. I called all my high school coaches and told them. After the video, I had all kinds of people reaching out to me. It was nice to see all those people and hearing and reading their positive comments,” Creamer said.

Creamer returned to Houston June 1 and begin preparing for his redshirt sophomore season. He’s battling for the number one tight end spot, but he’s happy to be a part of the Cougars program. He’s a marketing major now with a minor in business management, so when football comes to an end, he’ll be prepared for life away from the gridiron. He’s already accomplished some things he’ll keep dear in his heart, like getting to carry the Texas flag onto the field against East Carolina.

While he’s currently known on the team as the Redneck Cowboy because of his habit of wearing cowboy boots and jeans, picking his guitar and wearing a cowboy hat around campus, Creamer said he’s been accepted by his teammates and has truly found a second home away from the country living of Comstock and Del Rio.

“College football is a job, but we get to do this and not a lot of people get to say they did this. To be honest, I never saw myself going to the University of Houston. Now, I don’t see myself anywhere else,” Creamer said.

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