I don't know about you, but if you want pressure without doing a thing, try being the starting running back for Omaha Central. Making a name for yourself is almost an urgent consideration, because everyone else's name is being brought up as to you have to replace or play like. Whether it's Ahman Green that is now in the pros or David Horne whom Brandon replaced or even the likes of Gayle Sayers that started this whole tradition of I-backs from this school, you just can't be you, you have to be everyone else at the same time and even better. "There's a lot of pressure here." Brandon said of being a running back at Omaha Central. "You know everyday who you have to replace and taking the challenge, I like that, but you know it's going to be hard."
Hard? Try impossible. Not to discount anything that Brandon has done or has yet to do, replacing stats is one thing, but when it comes to replacing guys like Ahman Green, believe it or not, Brandon isn't just fighting what Ahman did at Central, he's also fighting everything Ahman did after that. Yeah, it's unfair, but that's sports and Brandon knows that it's just part of what makes you go for more and try harder. "I can play with the pressure, but when I am on the fiield, I don't really think about it." Brandon said.
I would think that's impossible to considering he's actually replacing one of those would-be legends, but we'll go with Brandon on this one.
Brandon's year last year saw him in double-duty from the stats, but not double-duty in regards to position. As Omaha Central's leading receiver along with their top rusher, everything Brandon did was out of the backfield. And let me tell you something, in this day and age, people will look at what a running back can do once he has the ball, but more and more, the emphasis on running backs is how they can work catching passes coming out of the backfield. Brandon hits a homer there to be sure.
Also, Brandon has speed. While Brandon will almost gush over the fleet feet of his predecessor, David Horne, Brandon actually beat Horne on occasion in the 100 meter dash. In fact, much like most of those that hit the field as running backs for Central, Gunn finds himself competing in track almost as much.
Ok, that about covers his potential and let's take into account that Omaha Central brings back almost if not their entire offensive line this year, so Brandon's potential just went up exponentially. What you want to know is though, does Brandon fit the mold of most Nebraska kids in that he wants to first, look to Nebraska and then if that doesn't work out, others can find themselves in the picture. "I do have that." Brandon said of his desire to be a starting running back for Nebraska. "But, I also want to do my own thing."
"It's not like I look forward to going there. I mean, I would love to play for them, but if it doesn't work out, I won't mind that either."
Believe it or not, Brandon's attitude isn't that strange. Yes, I know. It's the "typical" Nebraska kid that ends up at Nebraska, but within a state literally drenched in Scarlet and Cream, some players have seen enough and heard enough, sometimes they just want to try something different. Brandon didn't say that's what he was looking at, but was open to the possibility of being somewhere other than Lincoln.
Some of the early schools sending Brandon letters to do just that and get him out of the Cornhusker state are Iowa, Iowa State and Michigan. Also, Brandon is speculating about the idea of going to a camp out of state, that in addition to the yearly trek to the Nebraska camp. "I am thinking I might go down to Oklahoma to camp, but I don't know about that right now, because it's still pretty early." Brandon said.
Brandon's size of 5'10" and 190 lbs. leads you to believe he's shifty and his speed makes you think of a back that preceded him, David Horne in that when he hits the open field, he's gone. Brandon likes to break from that stereotype as well, letting me know that if it's one-on-one with a defender between him and the end zone, he's doing one thing. "I'm putting my shoulder down." Brandon said. "My favorite plays are up the middle and doing what I can to get some yards after contact. That's how I like to run."
Considering the line Gunn has coming back, he's going to be doing a lot of that and Omaha Central should reap the benefits of their added production, hence his. That's good, because as Brandon stated, they have some unfinished business this year. "We've got to get Millard North back." Brandon stated referring to the rather shocking defeat at the hands of the eventual runners-up at state, 49-6. "We got Prep (Creighton Prep) this year, but Millard North is the team for us now."
Part of the season then is about doing well, but also about a little redemption in addition. The absence of McCardle will help, but the return of Gunn should help just as much. It's a long season ahead, recruiting and other-wise for Gunn. Heck, we're not even getting warmed up.
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-730-5619