"We Walk!" #12: WR Brad Busby [#22]

Last, but not least, we are proud to present WR Brad Busby, who represents the final installment of our 12-part "We Walk!" series on the '09 walk-ons. The Bootleg's Scott Cooley brings us the story of a Southern boy who is well on his way to becoming a "Stanford Man" The Cardinal beat out tough competition from multiple Ivies to land Busby, but as young Brad himself notes: "It's not 1920 anymore!"

"We Walk!" #12: WR Brad Busby [#22]

For freshman walk-on wide receiver Brad Busby, the decision to move from Tobacco Country to The Farm wasn't void of distractions. A high-academic program on the East Coast and Stanford's arch-nemesis were both creating a buzz around the talented athlete.

"I got a lot of attention from the Ivy League schools and actually committed to Harvard, but then Stanford came into the mix," Busby said. "After that, it was between Harvard and Stanford, but then Cal jumped in at the last second because my cousin played there."

Busby hails from Wilmington, North Carolina, where he graduated from John T. Hoggard High School. His mother, Kathy, grew up in Los Altos and is the sister of Los Altos Hills resident Brad Lyman, who played collegiately at UCLA and spent two seasons with the Houston Oilers in the early 70's.

Lyman's son, Chase Lyman, made his mark on Bay Area football after starring at St. Francis High (Mountain View) and being named the San Jose Mercury News Male Athlete of the Year in 2000. After the Stanford Football staff at the time managed royally to botch his recruitment, much to the bitter chagrin of Chuck Taylor Grove crowd, Chase went on to play four prolific seasons at Cal and was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft.

"Chase is eight years older than I am and I always looked up to him," said Busby. "I only have a younger sister, but Chase was like my older brother. I looked up to him like he was the greatest thing that ever walked the earth."

Of course, the respected opinion of a role model weighed heavily on Busby's young mind, but in the end Stanford was the "right choice". And when the news broke that Busby would be a Cardinal, his extended family were as accepting as any rival clan could be.

"They've been nice, but [Chase] does give me a little bit of crap about it," Busby laughed. "When I told him I was going to Stanford he said, ‘Congratulations Brad, but we aren't talking anymore.' But he was actually very close to going to Stanford too, so they have a lot of respect for the school, being from around here. Maybe not the most love, but they are going to have to (warm up) now that I'm here."

Busby wears No. 22, which he currently shares with veterean free safety and team tri-captain Bo McNally, and is lining up at receiver during Stanford training camp. But the wideout position is a spot to which he is transitioning back after starting as an option-quarterback his senior year of high school.

"I had always switched back and forth in high school, but it was a little bit easier because there is not as much stuff you have to deal with," said Busby, comparing the shift back to receiver at the NCAA level. "Once I got up here, I thought ‘Sure I can play receiver again.' But when I get out here there is a lot of stuff I haven't done in a long time, or ever, because of the speed of the college game. So it's a little bit easier said than done."

Busby ran for 1,226 yards and 17 touchdowns during his final prep campaign while also throwing for 917 yards and seven scores. He registered only one reception he senior season, but it went for a 32-yard touchdown. Busby started at wide receiver his junior year and helped lead Hoggard High to a 15-0 record and a 4A State Championship. With a cumulative 4.75 GPA to complete his high school tenure, Busby was honored as the North Carolina Athletic Association Scholar Athlete of the Year.

"Stanford is the perfect academic school and I really like the environment out here," said Busby, who scored an impressive 2000 on the three-part SAT. "At Stanford there is unlimited potential. Pac-10 is big-time and I'm not saying that the Ivy League doesn't have great football or academics, because it does, but it's not 1920 anymore."

Leisure time away from football might place Busby's head in a book. He is an avid reader and is currently thumbing through a novel by Pat Conway – a Southern author from South Carolina. Busby believes that his passion for reading will eventually help him discover a major at Stanford.

"Actually Sam [Knapp] and I were talking about [declaring] and he's more of a math guy, but I'm more of a fuzzy guy, on the left side," he said. "I like literature and history and psychology, but I really have no idea yet. I already took sports psychology and anthropology this summer and I enjoyed them, but I'm just going to keep doing the sampling stuff for now."

Busby admits that he has plenty to think about at the moment, prior to his initial academic school year getting underway. The constant grind of adjusting from high school to college football hasn't been surprising to Busby, but only confirmed his suspicions.

"They said you are going to go from the best player on your team to where everybody is better than you," he said. "I thought that was probably true, but they were just saying that to get me motivated. But that really is the truth. Whether you are the worst player out here or not, you realize that all of these guys are good."

Busby understands that he must improve upon his receiving skill set to have a chance at making the travel team this year. There isn't just one area he is focused on, but many.

"The speed of the game has changed so much that first of all you have to get off the line," he stated. "The press coverage is a big thing to work on. We've also been having some trouble as a receiving group catching the ball recently, so getting plenty of reps with that is important. Route-running is also a big thing because you don't have to be the fastest or strongest guy to get open."

Busby's cousin Chase still lives in the area and works in Palo Alto with a real estate firm. The Bootleg was curious to know if the former NFL player provides the receiving apprentice with any tips from the pros.

"He actually has some old cut-up NFL tapes of all the top receivers and he'll let me borrow those," said Busby. "But I would say I could watch his tape and learn a few things. But we don't talk about football stuff too much. He is very supportive and it's good to know somebody that's been through it."

Busby is aware of the Cardinal's shortcomings at the receiver position the past few years. He recognizes that he must be completely prepared at all times in order to capitalize on any opportunity that could present itself.

"At Stanford the last few years there hasn't been a whole lot of depth at the receiver position," he said. "They (the staff) were really excited when we got in and they counted 11 guys playing receiver. But now Marcus Rance is out and there are guys everyday that are out with something, so at first you are thinking 11 total and only traveling six, but 11 goes down to six pretty quickly. And I'm not saying it's going to happen, but you definitely have to be ready. It changes everyday so you have to be prepared because if you get called on, there are no excuses."

Coming from the South, where life runs at a slower pace, Busby is enjoying the upbeat and diverse West Coast atmosphere.

"I can't get on the train back home and go see a Major League Baseball game or see a really cool city like San Francisco," he stated. "There are so many different things to do out here in California. The reason I came out here is to get a new experience. I could have just gone to the University of North Carolina, but that would have been the easy way out.

"I didn't come out here because I didn't like home. You can come out here to appreciate a new place, but also gain a better appreciation of where you came from."

While some kids try to avoid giving parental props, Busby couldn't talk about getting to where he is today without the guidance and influence of his mother and father.

"My mom, all of her nagging about schoolwork…I would say I would have done it anyway, but she's probably what got me into this place," said Busby, whose mother attended UCLA. "Doing your schoolwork really opens up opportunities and without that I wouldn't be here.

"My dad (a UNC graduate) was the best dad you could have growing up. He was supportive, but would tell me when I screwed up. He would always have memos written to me after games, being very philosophical, but he wasn't an obsessive dad that tried to live vicariously through me. He doesn't expect me to be the best player ever, but he's been really supportive."

It is obvious where the Busbys' allegiance will lie when the 2009 football season commences, but there may be no influencing Chase Lyman whom to cheer for when the Big Game comes on November 21.

"He is going to root for Cal ," Busby said. "It is what it is."

Editor's Bonus Notes: 

Brad's other cousin, six-foot, blonde and blue-eyed Colby Lyman, a three-sport star at St. Francis who played volleyball at UCLA from 2003-2006, is, along with her family, a regular at Cardinal Men's Basketball games, definitely improving the overall appearance and athletic ability of the floor section on the alumni side.

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