Every year Ohio State scours the Midwest with a toothbrush like a private in the army. They (along with every other program) searches for talent like a bear for honey. That quest often takes them far afield to places such as Florida. The Buckeyes have built quite a connection to this state over the last decade with multiple players and stars traveling North to OSU. Jenkins, Gamble, Holmes, Bishop, Britton, Salley, Vance, Matthews, and a host of past players have seen action for the Buckeyes. Who will be the next Florida star to earn Buckeye leaves on his helmet while playing for the Scarlet and Gray?
Perhaps it might be Brandon Siler…
For starters, Brandon sounds like the kind of player Jim Tressel and Ohio State are recruiting.
When I asked his coach, Max Purcell, to describe Brandon at the beginning of the interview, here is what he said…
"He is what you call an All-American kid. He has a great GPA - about 4.0. He has already passed the test (SAT) at about 1000. He is a hard working young man and a great leader. He is an inspiration to his peers and a lot of people around him. He is a great kid. He is a gentleman. He carries himself very mannerly. His parents did an excellent job with him growing up. His mother is a very strong woman. He has great support from his family."
To shed light on Brandon's leadership skills, his coach elaborated, "He already made 1000 on the SAT, and he wanted to take it again. We have some seniors around. He made sure they all went and got their packets and filled it out for the SAT test. I have been around football a long time. I have never seen a kid do that. Usually that is my job; I have to do that. He just took it upon himself, and he already passed the test and already qualified…He told them and grabbed them by the hand and helped them fill it out. To me, that shows his maturity and leadership skills. His manner is also like Alex Hayes, who is at USF right now - liked by everyone and a special kid."
Max Purcell closed his comments on Brandon's character with this high praise, "As far as respect, I have known him for three years and have yet to have one teacher or one person say one bad thing about him. He has a great respect for his teachers and his coaches. He is just a great kid. He is just one of those kids he is fun to be around; he is a college coach's dream."
In other words, Brandon apparently is a fine young man who just happens to play a little football. In fact, he plays enough football that large numbers of recruiters are going to beat a hasty trail to his home this year.
Though he has played multiple positions, last year he used his 6'3", 220 lbs, and 4.48 speed at linebacker. The result was devastating for the opposition. He recorded 189 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, and 1 interception. He currently benches 340 but is a worker in the weight room, and it will likely increase by kickoff this fall.
Even though his hoops team is in the districts right now, Brandon is not slacking off in lifting weights. According to Coach Purcell, "He is self motivated. He works out during basketball season. He makes sure he comes to see me to get the keys to the weight room during lunch-time. He loves it."
And how is he doing in high school basketball considering that football is why we are talking about him?
"I am a power forward. I play a little of the 3 too but mostly power forward. I just scored 32 points last night in our first district game. In the paper the other day it said I was scoring about 16 points a game with about 8 rebounds."
Hmm… Buckeye fans might be familiar with talented players who can not only play on the gridiron but on the court as well with individuals like Ricky Dudley and Nate Salley at Ohio State in the past decade.
When asked about who Brandon might be favoring, coach Purcell listed off a virtual "Who's Who" of the top 25; "Miami, Notre Dame, USC, Ohio State, Florida State, Florida… He just wants to go and see schools."
Brandon is looking to enjoy the whole recruiting period; "I am going to love going into this process. I have been anticipating this. Favorites? They are all on the same pedestal now because all of them are just through writing. I like to visit - talk to the coaching staff and see who they are."
Lest fans experience that familiar chill ratchet up their spine with young men who toy with fans and college recruiters, manipulation and ego thrills do not appear to be why Brandon is looking forward to his recruitment. Rather, he is very serious about his academics and desire to find the right place for him to excel.
Location will not play a large role in his decision; "That won't weigh too much. I am willing to go anywhere, play anywhere as long as I am comfortable."
So what will he use to determine his comfort level?
For starters, Brandon is highly concerned about his academics and is possibly leaning toward a major in business right now. "I want a good environment, and a college experience that is good. I definitely want to get my education. That is something a lot of athletes do not have. That is really high on my pedestal. That is a promise to my family that I have to keep. I like numbers. I am really thinking business. I'd like to go into the business field. Really I am open to all kinds of new things. Most of the directions I want to go in I have to go into business anyway - like being a sports agent or lawyer, something around that line."
How important is his education?
When asked about his greatest accomplishment, his immediate response was, "Mostly my GPA. I had a 4.3 coming into the 11th grade. That was really a big accomplishment for me."
After talking about his grades, only then did Brandon mention other accomplishments like being named the Orlando Sentinel player of the week in basketball a few weeks ago and receiving a Kiwanis award for his football exploits this past season (one of three selected for the honor in all of Orange County).
Brandon also wants a healthy relationship with his future coaches.
"My whole life I have been playing under coaches I have enjoyed playing for, and when coaches come visit me and show me personal time - that is more than anything else you can make up for… I like to talk to the head man and all the people that are around the school, see what is going on and see where I am on their priority list."
Since Brandon Siler has no idea where he will end up geographically, does he have any clue where he will play on the gridiron?
"I really don't have a position I would kill to be at. I am really open. Wherever I could be used the best and be the best at - that's where I want to be. I'm really open right now because I have played so many different positions."
Brandon is not even sure which side of the ball he favors. Offense or defense? Tight End/Running Back or Linebacker/Defensive End?
"I have a killer mentality. I like defense a lot. I can score, so I don't know which one I like better to tell you the truth. It is kinda hard. The touchdown gives you the fame. The tackles - when you crush somebody - gives you an inside YESSS! It gives you that yes on the inside that you love. It is a hard decision."
So, is Brandon perfect? He seems to be a natural leader, has outstanding grades, his teachers and classmates speak well of him, he is open to multiple positions… Should the Circus hire him so fans can buy the tickets and wait for him to commence walking on water? Should whoever lands this young man expect him to become the Pied Piper and lead his team to glory overnight?
No. Certainly not.
Both Brandon and Coach Purcell see room for improvement in his game this upcoming season.
Coach Purcell states, "My thing right now is that this young man needs to keep developing the way he is developing, get fundamentally more sound. The physical is there but (he needs) to just grow and learn the game knowledge-wise."
Brandon, like all recruits, is not a finished product. He has the tools that are required for the job but will have to continue to stay humble and work hard - on the field and in the classroom - to get where he wants to go.
I for one think he will make it, and some college is going to be proud to
have him not just as a football player, but as a graduate and alumni.
Brandon on his goals for 2003: "Definitely the state. I would really love to win state even if my stats were not that great - if I could win state, I would love that. We had a down year last year, but we have so many players coming back and they are busting their butts to do whatever they can to win state next year. Individually - not too many goals. I want to make sure I am in shape and can contribute all the time. I don't want to have to sit out plays because I am not in shape."
Brandon on his hobbies: "Mostly working out. I have a little basketball court in the backyard. My step-dad likes to work out."
What camps he plans on attending: "I really don't have any idea right now. My step-dad is probably going to weigh a lot during this process - my step-dad and my mom. We are going to get together and talk about some of the camps."
On the importance of his visits: "I am looking forward to my visits. They are probably going to play a big part in where I am going to go."
Coach Purcell on where Brandon will probably play in college: "He is probably going to try linebacker or running back in college."