With LSU holding a slim 3-0 lead against Arkansas in the beginning of the second quarter, the Tiger offense knew it had to get going. The ball was at midfield and on first down Jamarcus Russell faded back into the pocket and spotted what he was looking for. Bennie Brazell was streaking down the right side uncovered. Russell released and connected for a 50 yard touchdown that featured Brazell go untouched into the end zone. The offense was flagged for excessive celebration but little did they know that it would be the only cause for offensive celebration on the day.
However, at that point in time, no one cared.
"It's a great feeling," said Brazell.
For a good portion of his career at LSU, it would have been more likely for an onlooker to see Brazell running with a baton in his hands than with a football. But for the Houston native and collegiate track star, it was all part of the process.
"I was not even expected to come back this year but I came back and good things have happened. I have been patient and now is my time," said Brazell.
His time has come and it is evident in his stats. For the year, he has 11 catches for 252 yards for a 19.3 yards per catch average. He has two key touchdowns on the year, one was the 43 yarder that came against Arizona State and the 50 yard one from Saturday's game.
These numbers really indicate Brazell's ascent if compared to his career stats.
In 2002, he had three catches for 28 yards. In 2004, he did not manage to record any offensive statistics but contributed as a special teams coverage man with eight open field tackles. Last season he hauled in just one pass for 20 yards against Mississippi State. He also chipped in with five tackles on special teams. But, this year his presence began early and has continued all season.
"Coach (Nick) Saban made me a very good person and made me learn patience. Now, Coach Miles has given me the chance and that is really it," said Brazell."
One area that Brazell never needed to learn patience was on the track field. Although he did catch 36 passes for 10 touchdowns in high school, it was his prowess on the track that garnered attention. He was a 5A state champion in the 300 meter hurdles and was rated the nation's number one prep hurdler.
His impact was immediate upon his arrival. In fact, in four years, he had the distinction of being the most successful track member in LSU history, picking up 14 All-American honors. This culminated into him finishing eighth in the 400 meter hurdles finals at the Athens Olympics.
But all of that is different than being in Tiger Stadium with 90,000 plus expecting you to pull down a catch that has traveled half the distance of the field while you are wide open.
"Those are the hardest catches to tell you the truth," said Brazell. "I just had to relax and bring it in, that's it."
That was about the only bright spot on offense for the Tigers, but as everybody was quick to point out-they managed to score more points than Arkansas.
"We did not do too good," said Brazell. "We had a chance to put them away but we dug it out and got it done some kind of way."
Head coach Les Miles realized the offensive woes Saturday night but also sees the importance in Brazell's contributions.
"Bennie is a very talented receiver who can catch the deep ball," said Miles. "I wish we had him for a longer time."
Perhaps no one knows that better than someone most familiar with the receiver. Ronnie Prude is his roommate and has the chance to see Brazell work every day at practice. Prude and Brazell are also both part of the 2001 team so Prude has observed Brazell's maturation first-hand.
"Bennie just got better each year no matter what," said Prude. "He never moaned or pouted about playing time. He just knew that once he got his opportunity he was going to go out there and shine."
Prude also gets to defend Brazell in practice.
"Me and him go at it in practice and it gives me an advantage. There is not many fast receivers in the SEC. It also helps him because he knows I will get physical with him on the line."
Brazell can expect the same kind of physicality from the Georgia secondary. But can LSU fans expect more big plays from Brazell?
After the game, he indicated that good things occur for those who prepare. This being his second to last collegiate game means he has had all the time in the world to get ready. But then again, how much time could he need? His personal best in the 400 meter hurdles was 47.67 seconds.
Brazell awarded for patience with big TD's
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