Family, teammates and other friends celebrated the record-setting quarterback’s signing with East Tennessee State University on Thursday with a ceremony at the school’s gym.
Larkins, the 2018 Johnson City Press/Kingsport Times-News Elite 11 player of the year, led the Pioneers to the best season in school history his junior year. They ended the regular season as undefeated Region 1-5A champions and finished 12-1 with a loss to eventual state champion Knox Central.
The Bobcats also ended Larkins’ senior season on their way to a second state title. Still, Larkins took the Crockett program to a new level, winning 28 games over his four seasons with the Pioneers.
“There were a lot of firsts for this school that I was able to be a part of, like the first playoff win,” he said. “We made it to the quarterfinals. The 12-1 season brought so many new things to this community, to this program. It’s really special to see how this community rallied around us. Being with my teammates, the support of the community, it’s all been great.”
Larkins, who was a Tennessee Titans Mr. Football finalist in 2018, ended his career with a total of 11,042 passing yards. He finished No. 2 on Tennessee’s all-time list, 80 yards short of Trinity Christian’s Kyle Akin.
He passed for 2,859 yards and 34 touchdowns his senior season. His career total of 105 touchdowns ranks No. 6 on Tennessee’s all-time list. Nevertheless, he looks back at his high school career more through the team experience than his individual accomplishments.
“I was more disappointed on how we went out,” Larkins said. “Everybody wants their last game to be a win, but only so many schools get that. It’s not about the individual accomplishments. I just wanted to do better for my team.”
David Crockett football coach Hayden Chandley said Larkins’ greatest qualities go beyond well the gridiron.
“He not only does it on the field. He does it in the classroom as well,” Chandley said. “So many good athletes excel on the field and struggle in the classroom. Cade carries a 4.1 (GPA) and a 27 on his ACT. He’s a great role model for our younger athletes. This is a special day for this community, Cade and his family.”
Although he spent his early years in Texas, Larkins considers East Tennessee home. It was important for the 6-foot-2 right-hander to stay nearby where family and friends can watch him play.
“A lot of support I have now, it will stay with me at ETSU hopefully,” he said. “It means a lot to know I have some people already supporting me. I love the whole coaching staff, the atmosphere at ETSU and it’s a program moving in the right direction.”