6-foot-6 / 285 pounds
Blythewood (SC) / Heathwood Hall
As a redshirt freshman Brandner moved up the depth chart quickly to be listed as the primary backup at left tackle. There was something of a glass ceiling waiting, however, as Duke had All-ACC tackle Takoby Cofield. Still, Brandner was able to appear in five games in relief of Cofield for a total of 58 snaps at tackle.
Following his strong redshirt freshman season, Brandner took home most improved honors following Spring Practice. He’s continued that upward momentum throughout the summer and now steps in as the starter at left tackle. Filling Cofield’s shoes won’t be easy in both production, ability, and durability, and all eyes will be on Brandner early on as the starter with classmate Sterling Korona also pushing for time.
Brandner has done everything asked of him since arriving in Durham. He’s learned from all-conference mentors and he’s worked hard in the weight room, adding 30 pounds since his enrollment in 2013. He’s always been touted for length and balance, but has reportedly improved with both his quickness off the ball and the ability to sustain blocks. Entering college Brandner was considered more of a raw prospect than some of his classmates, but with his accolades and progress so far, it’s fair to expect him to meet the challenge of stepping in as an every down tackle.
How he ended up in Durham
Following his initial decision in which he picked Duke over offers from Air Force and Appalachian State, Brandner got the news that his in-state favorite, Clemson, had also jumped in with an offer as well. Duke fans worried that the Tigers would be able to pull him away, but a late visit to Durham solidified his decision.
High School Highlights
Three-year letterman at Heathwood Hall under coach Jon Wheeler ... helped Heathwood Hall to consecutive state playoff berths in 2011-12…earned first team South Carolina Independent School Association AAA all-state honors from the High School Sports Report following senior campaign ... all-area selection in 2012 by The State ... as a senior, graded out at 92 percent on offense while recording 68 tackles and 12 tackles for loss defensively ... earned South Carolina MVP honors at the eighth annual Oasis Shrine Bowl [info from this last section gathered from GoDuke.com]
FB Forecast: OL Gabe Brandner
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