Cade Borud is a 315-pound hockey player destined for Division I football

Southeast Polk senior Cade Borud crouched in the center of the Rams offensive line. He looks to the left, then to the right while waiting quarterback Jaxon Dailey to clap his hands in the Rams’ Week 2 game against Valley.

Borud sends the ball to Dailey and gets to work. He bulldozes through the Tigers defensive line, sending Ramez Naba to the ground before he has a chance to reach the playmakers Southeast Polk. This gives Dailey enough time to get the ball into the hands of Cole Filloonwho runs it the rest of the way for a touchdown.

This type of dominant play was common for Borud last fall.

He earned one of five offensive lineman spots on the Des Moines Register All-Iowa Elite team this season. He is number 20 on the state football prospect registry in 2022.and No. 4 among offensive linemen, and he signed to play Division I football at North Dakota on other offers from South Dakota State, Western Illinois and Southeastern Missouri State.

But football hasn’t always been Borud’s signature sport.

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Borud plays the puck near the blue line during a Des Moines Oak Leafs game.

He did not make his baseball debut.

Or basketball.

Or wrestling or whatever sport you’re probably thinking of.

The 6-foot-3, 315-pound lineman started out on skates. Ice hockey was his favorite sport when he was young. Well, maybe it wasn’t exactly a choice, but rather Borud following in his father’s footsteps.

Doug Borud came to Iowa from Two Harbors, Minnesota – a state where playing hockey is almost a birthright – in 1992. He played a year with the Des Moines Buccaneers in the USHL before four years of collegiate hockey at Iowa State.

When his playing career ended, Doug turned to coaching. With a group of other hockey dads, he started the oak leaves of Des Moines, a club hockey team that plays in the Midwest High School League. He retired in 2007 when his daughter was born, but he still had plenty of time to train his son.

So it was never really a question of if Cade would play hockey, but when. And he was a rink rat from birth, according to Doug.

“I know that kind of stuff sounds funny, but he was there pretty much the day he was born,” Doug told the Des Moines Register. “I was the team coach and he was at the rink, the hockey moms were holding him and all that.

“That’s how he started, and then when he was about 2 years old and he started walking, that’s when we started putting him on the ice.”

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Southeast Polk offensive lineman Cade Borud (68) was named to the Des Moines Register All-Iowa Elite Team this season after helping the Rams win a state championship.

Cade doesn’t remember exactly how he got into hockey. He remembers the sport wasn’t as popular when he was younger, but that didn’t stop him from playing the game he grew to love.

“As I got older, I realized I was so much better at football than at hockey,” Borud said. “When I was younger, I liked hockey a lot more than football, because I wasn’t as tall as I am now, obviously. It kind of became something to have fun and keep fit.

Doug described his son as a stay-at-home defenseman or a player more concerned with protecting his team’s net than scoring points. He said Cade was a disciplined defender, although any 300-pound skater who learned to throw blocks on the gridiron could easily interrupt an opposing attack on the ice.

But over time — despite his skating skills and defensive prowess — Borud said he was no longer cut out for hockey. However, starting his athletic development in hockey had its advantages, even though Borud was physically too big for the game.

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There are some skills he picked up in hockey that most players can’t pick up on the football field alone, including balance and footwork.

“Balance is huge in hockey, learning to skate and all that,” Borud said. “You have to be able to stand up, stay up, and that definitely translates into footwork for football. Our offensive line coach always told me I had the best feet he’s ever seen, and I give that to hockey.

And then you have to overcome the fear factor of playing a game on skates. Hockey was never scary for Borud, but there was a bit of discomfort as he got older and lost a bit of his “touch”. That meant injury was always a possibility. After years of playing a high-speed game on the ice, opposing defensive linemen didn’t seem much of a threat.

Cade Borud (far right) has always been the tallest skater on the team, even when he was younger.

But ultimately, Borud knew he had to step away from ice hockey to focus on football. He started spending more time on football than hockey around seventh grade, when coaches told him he could excel if he focused on football. Borud continued to play hockey on the side throughout the 2020-21 season, bouncing between varsity and junior college for the Oak Leafs.

There were few things that could stand between him and his love for the game, even his height. Borud knew he was still the biggest player on the ice, but he didn’t mind. He got into the heads of some opponents.

“Their reaction was always wide-eyed and just like, ‘Holy shit,'” Borud said. “I was the tallest kid. Nobody ever had a kid who was close to my height in any other team.”

This fall, he wanted to enjoy his senior year, and that meant taking a break from hockey. Southeast Polk’s success on the football field made that decision a little easier.

“By the time we won the state championship this year, they (Oak Leafs) were probably already in about 15-20 games,” Borud said. “I managed to get into it last year, but it’s difficult. It starts from October until March and I wanted to enjoy my senior year more while having more time to do other things like lifting weights and working out.

Most high performance dual sport athletes will have to cut ties with an activity at some point. Borud is not the first Division I football player to come from the hockey community.

Perhaps he will join the ranks of hockey players turned football stars, like JJ Watt and Michael Dieter in the NFL.

Just because he signed to play football with the Fighting Hawks doesn’t mean Borud won’t stop playing hockey, even if it’s just for fun. His gear will accompany him to North Dakota, a college hockey powerhouse.

When the lakes freeze over and the hockey rinks open for the winter, Borud will be ready to play, as he is every time he crouches center on the football field, balancing on a set of pegs. solid built by ice hockey.

Alyssa Hertel is a college sports recruiting reporter for the Des Moines Register. Contact Alyssa at or on Twitter @AlyssaHertel.

Catherine J. Martinez