Size does matter after all. Well, not always, but it certainly doesn't hurt when it is taken into account with what you do. And if you are an offensive tackle, yeah, size sometimes definitely does matter. If it was the end-all, be-all of things, Brandon Braxton would already be all-everything, just 5 inches short of 7 foot and tipping the scales at over 300 pounds.
Size isn't everything though as in this world of athletics, you have to be a full package to really make a statement and it's that lineman that can do everything that stands out, which suits Brandon just fine, because it's everything that he likes to do. "I like it all." Brandon said when talking about his preference to either run-blocking or pass-blocking. "I actually do like to run-block more though."
Now, there's something you don't hear or see everyday. Someone of Brandon's size not only going through the act of blocking downfield, but a behemoth like him that actually enjoys it. "I like getting off that first guy and going downfield to find someone else." he said. "I don't know, I just like hitting people."
That would be an easy common denominator with guys in the trenches, the sheer love of physical contact. And, when you are on the offensive side of the ball, those glory-loving defensive players that love to make targets out of the people you are protecting, become targets themselves. That's when it's fun. As Brandon described being able to smack a linebacker out in the wide-open, he literally bellowed with laughter, uttering, "That's like the greatest thing ever. That is a pulling lineman's wish."
Even amidst this obvious state of euphoria as he is getting ready to deliver the hit though, Brandon still finds time to be disciplined. "I just want to hit them into the ground and get on to the next person." he said.
Like most players on the line I talk to, Brandon has what some would call a "zone" or even a "switch". What it is, is this mental state a player finds himself in, on the field as opposed to off. It's basically a way of separating a player that needs to be "nasty" from a person that has to be anything but. Brandon talked about when that "switch" is on. "It's a completely different story out there." he said. "It could be your best friend and the second you get on the field, it's game time and they are my worst enemy."
Attitude aside, Brandon has a pretty simple philosophy about his ability to be a successful lineman and that is to never think you are a success. "I have to get better." Brandon said. "I work everyday to get my blocks better and just do anything I can to help my team."
It's easy to forget sometimes when you encounter imposing individuals like Brandon. They seem to be this force of sorts to such an extent, you can overlook that despite their ability or size, their role is within a system meant to utilize them, rather than operate specifically off of what they do. For this, Brandon is all too aware. "My job is to protect the quarterback." he said. "If he gets sacked, he may not say anything, but I know he's thinking that he's picking himself up because of me and I can't let that happen."
There really is a lot to like about this young man, physically and as you can see has been well illustrated, mentally as well. It's enough to have garnered this young man offers from schools like Nebraska, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State and Michigan, already.
As for any preferences amongst these schools, "Not really." Brandon said. "I can't say I like anyone a lot, because there's things I like about each school."
Brandon isn't planning on attending any camps this Summer, but does plan on waiting until he can take all of his official visits before making any final decision on which school gets his services for the next few years.
Steve Ryan can be reached at email@example.com or 402-730-5619
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