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Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Track heats up, Brazil focuses on football

By Gary Laney

Jeryl Brazil
Jeryl Brazil is taking it slow on the track as he prepares to report to LSU this summer.
BATON ROUGE, La. -- If you see Jeryl Brazil run a 100-meter dash at less than you'd expect from the fastest player in the class of 2013, don't panic.

Brazil, it turns out, is pacing himself on the track this spring.

"I haven't been running much track in the outdoor season," Brazil said Tuesday. "Everything right now is about football training."

Which is, after all, what LSU fans want to hear from one of the prize recruits of the 2013 football class.

So never mind his times at track meets in the coming weeks. He has bulked up to a solid 190 pounds and will soon find out what this football weight will do to his track performance.

"Who knows? It might make me faster," he said.

It's hard for one to get much faster than Brazil, who established himself as perhaps the fastest prospect in the nation last summer at The Opening, running a 4.32 40-yard dash, the fastest time at the event. Brazil, who said he'll try to run track his freshman year at LSU, followed that by winning the high school national championship in the 60-meter dash with a 6.70 clocking March 10.

He also has the nation's fastest 55-meter time this year at 6.27. As a junior, he broke Trindon Holliday's state record in the 55 meters with a 6.25.

Brazil, who ran a 10.36 100-meters at the Louisiana Class 3A state track meet last season, said that just because track is taking a back seat for now, doesn't mean he won't be ready.

"I'm not traveling for track right now," he said. "Come state, I should be able to do something big, as always."

Meanwhile, he prepares for his LSU football career. Classified as a cornerback after his outstanding showing at The Opening, Brazil's future LSU position is still up in the air.

Of the players on the current Tigers roster, Brazil is the only one listed as an "athlete," and his conversations with LSU coaches touch on a number of position possibilities.

He caused a bit of a stir when he recently tweeted, "Wait ... I'M PLAYING RUNNING BACK AT LSU??" He said it was in reaction to a blog post that suggested that could happen.

Actually, it's not out of the realm of possibility, he admitted. Brazil played quarterback for his Loranger (La.) High School team and was an elusive and explosive force running with the ball.

"Coach [Les] Miles has talked about me doing things like catching swing passes coming out the backfield, using my speed," he said. "We've talked about it."

He said he also has talked about playing slot receiver, where his speed can be utilized in matchups with safeties or on speed sweeps.

And, of course, there's always defensive back, where he could join a young group of cornerbacks and contend for immediate playing time. Regardless of where the LSU coaches eventually decide he'll play, he said he expects to "make an impact."

There's one thing to be put to bed: While he'll be compared to Holliday, the diminutive speedster who was famously the fastest player ever to play college football (based on his 100-meter time in track and field) during his LSU career, he's certainly not the same player as Holliday, now a kick returner for the Denver Broncos.

While Brazil is hardly huge, at 5-foot-9, he's several inches taller than Holliday, whose effectiveness as a player at both the pro and college levels has been mostly limited to kick returning.

Brazil already weighs 190 pounds, 21 pounds heavier than Holliday's weight and big enough where's it's not hard to imagine him at running back -- not just as a "speed back" specialist -- or as a corner who won't necessarily get out-muscled by bigger receivers, even if most will be taller.

Regardless of where he plays, he'll share this with Holliday: He'll be the fastest player on the field. He's trusting LSU to find the best way to take advantage of that.

"I've played them all, quarterback, running back, defensive back," he said. "As long as I can be out there and kind of be an athlete."