This is about dreams and how they can come true.
It’s about Jeff Braun of West Virginia, a kid who did the college athlete thing the way it was supposed to be done.
He wasn’t a star on the football field, but he was a starter, a three-year starter.
Off the field he was a star. He made his grades, got his degree; if he wasn’t all-Big 12 in football, he was in academics.
But there was that dream. He wanted to play in the NFL.
Oh, he heard over and over that he couldn’t, that he wasn’t athletic enough.
He just wasn’t ready to believe that.
At West Virginia he probably never was their best offensive lineman, but he always did his job, and that changed from year to year, almost day to day — tackle, center, guard.
He did what they asked him to do, did it well — no matter how many offensive line coaches they threw at him.
Draft day came and he hoped to hear his name but knew it was a long shot. He accepted that, knowing he had given all he could give, all he had, and then when his career ended he set full force on preparing himself for The Combine and/or Pro Day, working on his perceived weaknesses.
He showed skills, more speed, more strength, more agility than the pro scouts had been led to believe he had.
“You really want to perform well,” he said following his Pro Day workout. “For a guy like me, it’s my opportunity. I didn’t get to go to The Combine, so you circled this date. Every day of training, you focused on this. This was my Combine. To perform the way I did, I was quite happy.”
No, he didn’t get drafted but somehow it isn’t the worst thing in the world to have the phone ring and find out it’s the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens offering you a free agent contract, especially when you are a hometown guy.
Then this weekend his big chance arrived.
It was off to rookie camp.
“I tell you what after all that combine/pro day training, it felt amazing to finally get back to some X’s and O’s,” he tweeted when it was over.
It appears he made the most of his opportunity.
Following camp, the hometown paper from Carroll County, Md., caught up with Raven Coach John Harbaugh, who addressed Braun and linebacker Brandon Copeland’s performance.
“Those two guys specifically, Braun and Copeland, looked really good. Big, good, athletic guys, smart players, guys that can definitely make it in the NFL,” Harbaugh said.
Now that is not exactly a guaranteed three-year contract, but to a kid who prior to his Pro Day didn’t seem to have any NFL future, that has to read like one.
Now here’s the thing. Braun had been a guard at WVU the past two seasons and started at right tackle as a sophomore.
In mini-camp, he did nothing but center, a position he played only as a backup to starter Joey Madsen.
“It went well,” Braun said. “The biggest thing was trying to get the offense down in as little time as possible. They’re throwing a lot at us each day and we don’t have enough meeting time to go over everything, so you have to study on your own and be able to understand everything, but it was fun and I had a blast out here.”
Will he be with the Ravens opening day? Who knows.
Will he be in the NFL? Again, who knows.
But what you do know is that if he isn’t, it won’t be because he didn’t put in the work or because he didn’t learn the playbook.
And if he is there when the season opens, the one thing you can be sure of is it will be because he earned it and that no one handed him a spot.
Email Bob Hertzel at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.
This is about dreams and how they can come true.
5 memorable college hoops tourney buzzer beaters
It's March, which means the NCAA Tournament is just around the corner. But before March Madness takes hold, the conference tournaments, which get under way this week, often provide their own share of exciting finishes. Here are five memorable buzzer beaters from conference tournament play.
Fairmont Senior bullies Ritchie County to claim regional title: PHOTOS
While remnants of a winter storm remained outside of the Woody Williams Armory, No. 1 Fairmont Senior was on fire inside, beating Ritchie County, 69-31, for the Region I title.
It was business as usual for Fairmont Senior, which will advance to the state tournament beginning next Wednesday in Charleston.
North Marion tops Webster, 76-48
North Marion rebounded from a sectional championship loss to beat Webster County, 76-48, on the road Thursday night to punch its ticket to the state tournament.
The Lady Huskies, which had four of their five starters in double figures, used a team effort to get the win.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Huggins just wants WVU to compete
In the end, with Bob Huggins, they count victories and losses, and he has always been one to pile up the victories while keeping the losses to a minimum, at least until the last two seasons at West Virginia University.
And, in the end, when he tries to analyze why the losses have come rather than the victories, he comes to understand that he just doesn’t have the manpower to compete.
Cold-shooting Lady Falcons fall to State
In its biggest game of the season to date Fairmont State suffered its worst performance.
Fifth-seeded FSU shot a season-low 29.5 percent from the field (18-of-61), including a dismal 8-of-33 showing (24.2 percent) in the second half and as a result fell, 71-59, to fourth-seeded West Virginia State in the quarterfinals of the first Mountain East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament here Thursday night at the Charleston Civic Center.
Falcons hope for tournament run
Since day one, making another post-season run has been at the top of Fairmont State coach Jerrod Calhoun’s mind.
Last season the Falcons went three-for-four in the WVIAC Tournament, falling to West Liberty in the tournament’s final game. The strong run, though, propelled the Falcons into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed.
Carey, Bussie headline Big 12 awards
To the victors go the spoils, and West Virginia University’s newly crowned Big 12 women’s basketball regular-season co-champions certainly took down their share of the conference’s post-season awards, headed by coach Mike Carey and senior center Asya Bussie.
FURFARI COLUMN: Women’s finale fitting as all-time Coliseum great
If you weren’t among the thrilled, extremely vocal 5,502 fans at the WVU Coliseum last Tuesday night, you missed one of the most memorable sports events in that 44-year-old arena’s history.
The No. 7 nationally ranked West Virginia University women’s basketball team’s capture of the Big 12 Conference regular-season co-championship beating Kansas 67-60 on Senior Night was followed by a wild, wonderful celebration.
Local product enters Mount St. Mary’s Hall of Fame
Fairmont Senior graduate Heather Wable DeWees has been inducted into Mount St. Mary’s University Athletics Hall of Fame.
During her time on Mount St. Mary’s women’s basketball team, she was described as a “winner.”
Elliott, Delligatti share state championship win with their fathers
As human beings, we love to share special moments with those we are closest to.
For Ryan Elliott and Vincent Delligatti, that moment was winning the state championship, something they were both able to accomplish with their father as a coach on their wrestling team.
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