Broughton arrived on the WSU campus after a JUCO career that began at Fullerton Junior College, where he posted 32 tackles and 2 interceptions including a pick-six his true freshman season. The next year at Riverside Community College, he was credited with 34 tackles, 11 pass breakups and 5 interceptions. (Broughton returned one of those INT’s for a TD while recovering a fumble and taking it to the house).
But by coming in late to fall camp last season at Wazzu -- and being unfamiliar with Alex Grinch's defense, Broughton got off to a slow start and then some. He played in just 8 games while learning a new position (nickel) which helps to account for the modest total of 3 tackles in 2015. But '15 looks to have been a blessing in disguise.
“I played a little nickel last year,” said Broughton. “Coming into Washington State, I didn’t know anything about defense. Playing a little nickleback, I got to understand where my help is coming from. I’ve gotten to know the defensive front and eight in the box instead of just knowing the defensive backs (scheme). Now being at corner, I know naturally where my help is coming from. I know what I need to do and how I can help other guys.”
Enjoying success at two different junior colleges and building a reputation as an sought defensive back prospect, Broughton is now focused on making his final collegiate campaign his best. The story of his path to Pullman has a familiar ring to fans of Cougar football.
Over the course of the recruiting process, it was third-year Cougar sophomore LB Greg Hoyd III who played a prominent role in why Broughton chose Washington State for his final two years of college ball.
“I grew up with him,” said Broughton about his friend Hoyd. “I lived with him. He’s a family dude and said it’s a family atmosphere up (at WSU). But once I met (defensive coordinator) Alex Grinch that was the big reason I came up here (choosing WSU over Oregon State, Boise State and Fresno State).”
The desire to succeed becomes evident listening to the young man from Murrieta, Calif., talk about the game he has a passion for. Broughton has developed himself into a student of the game through film study, listening to coaches and tireless dedication to practice.
“Knowing the scheme of the defense,” he says was the beginning to his development as a Cougar cornerback. “Breaking down film... Every time you bump up a level (from high school to JC then college) it becomes more important. It’s like a science. You’ve got to know a three-step drop. You’ve got to watch film to know what they run in a particular formation. You’ve just got to break everything down so that you’ve (gained) every advantage going into a game. The offense always has the advantage of going backwards or going forward. They know what they’re running. I don’t. I’ve got to use technique on every play. That’s the biggest thing.”
At the end of last season, Broughton wasn’t even listed on the depth chart for the Sun Bowl game. Now he's locked in a battle for one of the starting corner spots with Robert Taylor. In order to accomplish his goal of moving up to No. 1 on the depth chart, he points to basics that will get him there and keep him there.
“Feet, your footwork,” he begins when asked to list areas he needs to work on to improve his game. “Finding the ball. Technique. Coach Grinch emphasizes that if you don’t have technique it’s going to be a long hard day for you. He’s not going to put you in the game if he can’t trust you to use (proper) technique.”
Broughton has been coming on strong of late, as CF.C's Skyler Cracraft's daily reports attest. But Broughton doesn't want to just win the starting job opposite the other projected staring corner, Darrien Molton (last season named by Pro Football Focus as a top freshman cornerback). No, Broughton says his goal is to be among the best cornerbacks in the conference.
“The consistency of working hard every day,” Broughton says is what it takes to be a starter. “It’s the mindset. You get up early though you don’t want to do it. You’ve got to remember what you’re doing it for and to be your best and help your team out as much as possible. I don’t like losing, and I’m sure (my teammates) don’t. I want to make sure I know my job and get it done.”
By listening carefully to the advice of Grinch and remaining focused on his goal, Broughton keeps bouncing back and grinding away.
“I just kept running and lifting (weights),” says Broughton. “Do a little extra film work. Anything I can do to get better. I’m trying to get the extra step (needed). It’s all about competition and I just want to be the best.”
Watching film comes natural to him since he isn’t a fan of tuning in to television shows. Instead, Broughton would rather, “pull up practice films to see what I did wrong and what I can do better.”
His positive attitude is front and center when talking about Pullman. It’s not unusual for Californians to be challenged by the change of season on the Palouse. That's not the case with Broughton.
“It’s my first time being in 32-degree weather,” he says. “In California when it hits the 50’s we feel like the world is about to end. Being out here in the cold, it makes you tougher. Sometimes you can’t feel your feet or your hands but you don’t stop (because of that). You keep pushing.”
There are just a precious few practices left where Broughton can make his push to solidify starting at one cornerback. But practicing against one of the best receiving corps in the country will give him plenty of opportunities.
“I’ve always been the underdog but I like to prove people wrong. I like a challenge and that’s one of the reasons I came here,” says the guy who fully expects to be listed atop the depth chart at CB for the season opener on Sept. 3rd against Eastern Washington.
In the interim, Broughton will continue to author the story he hopes will end with him matching his personal goal: becoming the best cornerback in the Pac-12. Cougar fans should stay tuned to see what develops.