Briggs Fills the Big Shoes Just Fine

The standout running back, Trajuan Briggs, has felt some pressure trying to step into the figuratively big shoes left by Milton Knox at Lake Balboa (Calif.) Birmingham. But he had a big junior year and is getting serious recruiting attention...

Lake Balboa (Calif.) Birmingham running back Trajuan Briggs (5-11.5, 198) knew the shoes he'd have to fill for the Patriots were big, in the figurative sense.

Briggs had to follow Milton Knox, the diminutive tailback who rewrote the City Section record books as a running back for Birmingham, winning three City Section titles and ending his career as the City's all-time leading rusher.

But Briggs was more than ready for the challenge and he had a strong junior season, a year that is making him a target of several Pac-10 schools.

Briggs landed his first scholarship offer last month from Cal and more schools are staying in contact.

"Cal offered me and that was pretty relieving," said Briggs. "It got me feeling like I'm on the right track now. I'm hearing from USC, UCLA, Oregon, Arizona, Washington, Alabama, Ohio State and Michigan recently sent some mail."

Briggs has been at junior days the past two weekends, going to Cal last weekend and USC the week before. This weekend, he'll be at UCLA's.

"USC's Junior Day was a real good, nice experience," said Briggs. "They loved my highlight film and how I run really hard. Cal was great too. I really liked what I saw there and Coach (Ron) Gould is a great guy."

Briggs said he's hoping to rack up more offers, and he's doing what he can to bring himself more attention.

"Everyone is getting me the letters, the information about the school, but the biggest thing I have to do is send more of my highlight tapes out," said Briggs. "That should help me out."

Briggs has seen teammates make early commitments, and then watched as they ended up taking visits down the stretch just to make sure they were making the right choice. That is why he's not rushing the process.

"I want to take a lot of official visits," said Briggs. "A lot of people who got recruited committed early and then the guys that recruited them, leave. Like Coach Cignetti leaving for Pittsburgh. He was the guy who offered me at Cal. So I'll decide in January and not worry about the added stress."

Briggs said he embraced the opportunity he had to replace Knox in the lineup, even if it did start wearing on him. He said: "That's how I approached the season, with the mindset that ‘you've got some big shoes to fill.' Everyone always says I'm having big shoes to fill. But I'm just going to be myself up there, make a name for myself, not as Milton's backup but as myself. And that added more fuel and made me want to work harder. Milton is a great guy though. That's my good friend. He taught me a lot, don't keep your head down. He just told me how to be better and stronger mentally and physically."

Briggs carried that onto the field, rushing for 1,513 yards and 23 touchdowns for the Patriots in 2008.

This spring, the Patriots will break in a new head coach, but he's feeling good about their chances. "Hopefully we'll be back winning the City championship," said Briggs. "I will say it's hard to say, but we'll have a lot of athletes coming in."

Academically, Briggs has a 2.7 GPA and will take the SAT this month.

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