Standing firm, and stealthy, behind Indianapolis Colts wide receiver and former Ohio University standout LaVon Brazill after a chilly Thursday practice at Peden Stadium is current Ohio Bobcat wide out Donte Foster.
This statement is true in both the physical sense and in the Ohio University record book because of Foster’s productive senior season. The Oklahoma recruit stands just two touchdowns shy and 49 catches behind Brazill in becoming No. 2 and No. 1 respectively all-time in school history in the aforementioned categories.
“Records are meant to be broken,” Brazill stated. “I’m just glad it’s by a good receiver, good guy. Go out there and get the record.”
Brazill returned to Athens for rivalry week during his professional club’s bye week following a 39-33 victory over the Denver Broncos this past Sunday night. After serving a four-game suspension to start the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy in late July, Brazill returns to a club that is 5-2, has rattled off three victories over early-season Super Bowl favorites (San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Broncos) and will be missing standout wide receiver Reggie Wayne for the rest of the season with a torn knee ligament.
“I’ve got some big shoes to fill, and I’m ready to do it, and I’ve been doing it ever since I was a young boy,” Brazill proclaimed.
With Wayne out, Brazill becomes the next man up behind T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey. After hauling in 11 catches for 186 yards and one touchdown last season, look for Brazill to see a lot more action with quarterback Andrew Luck with the injury news.
“He’s a great guy, great leader, good role model in the locker room and a winner for sure,” Brazill said confidently about his team’s offensive leader. “We just do all of our talking on the field and play together as a team.”
With LaVon back in town, it brings back good memories of hookups between redshirt senior quarterback Tyler Tettleton and the second-year pro. Wide outs like Chase Cochran and Foster have come in to help fill the gaps in the long game left by Brazill, but speed is a skill set possessed by Brazill that is unmatched by anyone currently on the Ohio roster.
That doesn’t mean they can’t still learn a thing or two from their old friend.
“I tried to take all of his tricks and everything that he does in games and try and imitate them now on the field,” Foster said.
Cochran has taken notice that wide receiving talent has been breeding in the Ohio locker room under staff members like wide receivers coach Dwyane Dixon for some time time, and looks to that as motivation that they have the same tools available to reach the same heights.
“The Riley Dunlops of the world and the Terrence McCrays” Cochran stated as examples. “Those guys have taught us a lot, and I think we try to implement that into our game.”
Although Brazill is the only former Ohio Bobcat receiver on an NFL roster at the moment, it wasn’t an easy process for LaVon to get drafted after being on of the MAC’s most touted wide outs entering the 2012 Draft. He had no clue if his name was going to get called with 48 picks left. When the Colts came on the board in the sixth round with the 206th pick, Brazill proved that “good things come to those who wait.”
“[I’m] very blessed to get drafted, very blessed to stay on the team, so I just want to thank God for all of the opportunities he gave me, and I’m ready to move forward and play hard and play fast on Sunday,” Brazill said of his dream of getting drafted to the NFL coming true.
This dream may have never been realized if Brazill never stepped foot onto Ohio University grounds as a Bobcat. With the backing of great teammates and coaching staff, the former Ohio wide receiver used his experience as a Bobcat during the 2012 offseason heading into the April draft.
Brazill points to coach Dixon as a positive role model during his time at Ohio and during the drafting and combine process. His teachings on the concepts of routes and recognizing coverages has proved to help players like Brazill make it to the next level and guys like Cochran and Foster continue to build on their speed and memory.
“They’ve got some big shoes to fill over here,” Brazill said of this year’s receiving core. “My boys need to keep it up and keep playing hard and go out here and get this win on Saturday.”
After all, victory is surely in the hands of the Bobcats and you will see guys like quarterback Tyler Tettleton and Foster celebrating the achievements they could have in the Ohio record book by the end of the day.
“Put me in third place,” Brazill said. “I’ll take third.”