'Faster than ... anyone else': Why Nevada WR Caeden DaSilva is poised for huge 2021

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune

NEVADA, Ia. — Caeden DaSilva is going have a huge target on his back this fall.

The Nevada receiver is coming off a big year as part of the Cubs' 6-3 team that made the second round of the Class 3A football playoffs in 2020. With the loss of 1,000-yard rusher Caden Jones and big-play receiver Ayden Rhodes, DaSilva is going to be the main weapon for Nevada this fall.

"Caeden's gained a lot of attention the last couple years," Nevada head coach Andrew Kleeman said. "You basically have to double-team him, but that frees things up for everybody else, which is a nice thing for us." 

DaSilva caught 43 passes for 638 yards and seven touchdowns last season. As a sophomore, he made 32 grabs for 425 yards and four scores for a Cub team that went 7-2 and just missed the playoffs.

"After last year, going to the playoffs and losing because, in my opinion, everybody got hurt, it just feels really good to get back on the field," DaSilva said. "Hopefully this year we can have a healthy season and make a good run in the playoffs."

DaSilva will be catching passes from his fourth quarterback over the past three years.

Kody Kruschwitz was hurt early in DaSilva's sophomore season. Keaton Fry stepped in to finish out that year and then Blake Bottorf took over last year. This year, James Edwards is taking over behind center.

MORE: Hot start not enough for Nevada Cubs in 3A playoff loss to Ballard

Nevada senior Caeden DaSilva is one of the top returning receivers in Class 3A entering the 2021 season. DaSilva made 43 receptions for 638 yards and seven touchdowns last season.

With no varsity experience at quarterback, Edwards is grateful to have such an explosive and experienced weapon at his disposal.

"Any time we need a big play, he's kind of our go-to guy," Edwards said. "He's faster than probably anyone else you'll see, and when we get down in the red zone, I'm able to throw the ball up in the end zone and he's able to come down with it."

Even though he doesn't have varsity experience at quarterback, Edwards has great chemistry with DaSilva. Edwards was quarterback when they were both part of the Nevada freshman team.

"This year I think will be good because I know James and I played seventh, eighth (grade) and freshman year with James," DaSilva said. "Timing is good with us and the goal of every receiver is to make life easier for your quarterback."

DaSilva is an elite sprinter. He placed third in Class 3A during the boys' 200-meter dash at state track last spring and has also been a part of state champion and place-winning relay teams for the Cubs.

MORE: Nevada football lands seven players on the 2020 all-district team

But at 6-foot-3 with good leaping ability, he is also a physical mismatch against most defensive backs.

"I just go up and get the ball," DaSilva said. "It's a really good feeling when you come down with it."

Nevada right tackle Aden Ballard said DaSilva's ability to win jump balls takes a lot of pressure off the Cub offensive line.

"Even if we mess up a little bit on the block, we know DaSilva might get the ball," Ballard said. "It definitely helps." 

DaSilva also knows there's a lot more to the game than speed and athleticism. That's why he put in a lot of time over the offseason working on better ways to get open.

"My route-running has gotten a lot better," DaSilva said. "It's a lot of working on footwork and timing with the quarterback. It's the mental size of the game, of knowing what to do when. That's definitely something I needed to work on toward the end of last year and I think I've done a good job of that."

DaSilva will also be a big part of Nevada's success on defense. He'll man one of the cornerback spots. He had two interceptions a year ago.

Nevada senior Caeden DaSilva poses at the school football field Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, in Ames, Iowa.

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"It definitely helps having Caeden out there on defense," Edwards said. "I know if I'm a quarterback, I'm not throwing to his side."

Leadership is an area where DaSilva is becoming more assertive. As a senior, he'll be counted on to keep the team focus and help build confidence for the younger players.

"He's quiet, but he definitely helps everyone else around him get better," Edwards said. "He helps receivers learn what to do better and he also helps our corners out."

Nevada has built up a lot of momentum over the past two years. The Cubs are 13-5 over that span after only topping four wins two other times in the previous decade.

DaSilva is a big reason for that success. He also brings a lot of excitement onto the field and his coaches and teammates are hoping to see that continue in 2021.

"He's a kid that's highly-explosive," Kleeman said. "Every time that ball is in his hands, there's the potential for a big play. It's a good thing that he's on our team."