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Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Elite speed sells schools on RB Bradford

By Sam Khan Jr.

SPLENDORA, Texas — The first time this year that coaches at Splendora (Texas) High School put a stopwatch on 2015 running back Jay Bradford, head coach Brad Milam was in disbelief.

It was February, and the coaches were doing offseason testing like many programs do. Included in those tests is the 40-yard dash. When Bradford exploded for a hand-timed 4.38 seconds, Milam refused to believe it was true. So he had Bradford run in another line and have another coach time him.

Again, it was in the 4.3-second range.

Jay Bradford
Clas of 2015 prospect Jay Bradford blew up after a scorching time at the Texas state track and field championships.
Finally, a third time, Milam decided he had to see for himself. He measured the distance his players were running to ensure it was actually 40 yards (it was), then went and stood at the end of the line to see Bradford, time his tailback himself and get the other three coaches with stopwatches to follow suit. After yet another sub-4.4 40, Milam was finally a believer.

"I was sold," Milam said.

Colleges weren't though, at least not yet. Because he was banged up a little bit in his sophomore season, Bradford only has six games worth of video highlights. Milam understood that college coaches are skeptical of hand-timed 40-yard dashes, so Milam didn't even tell coaches that Bradford ran what he did because he didn't want coaches to think he was overselling his player. He told them Bradford was a "mid-4.4s guy." By May, Milam said just four schools had been by Splendora to inquire about Bradford.

That all changed after the Texas state track and field championships. There, track coach Randy Pope told Bradford to shoot for a 100-meter dash time under 10.5 seconds. Bradford did just that, winning the Class 3A state title in the 100 with an electronic time of 10.49 seconds. The following week, the phone in Milam's office was ringing off the hook.

A 5-foot-10, 190-pound sophomore running back with sub 10.5-second 100-meter dash speed? Several schools are ready to sign up for that. Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech already have offered Bradford. For the budding star from Splendora, it's a dream come true.

"Since I was in seventh grade, I've been wanting to go to a college so badly," Bradford said. "Now knowing that I have Baylor, Texas, A&M, Texas Tech all looking at me, it's like, 'How did I get here?' "

Bradford credits his teammates, coaches and friends for pushing him to get to this point. On the college camp circuit, he has done plenty to impress colleges. Baylor offered him even before its June camps. Texas Tech was next in line, offering him in early June. At Texas A&M's June 2 camp, coaches timed Bradford in the 40 at 4.28 and 4.29 seconds. At Texas on June 9, he was timed at 4.27 and 4.30 seconds.

Not bad for a self-proclaimed shy kid who wasn't serious about sports until his seventh grade year.

"In seventh grade, I was so shy," Bradford said. "In eighth grade, I broke my wrist during basketball season -- that's completely healed now -- but I came back for my first track meet, and I was pretty excited. I was just ready to run. I had somebody recording the race [100-meter dash]. When I was finished and I watched it, I was about 10 meters in front of everybody. I didn't know I was that fast. I kind of took off from there."

As for colleges, Bradford isn't in a rush at the moment but he has enjoyed building a relationship with coaches. He said he has enjoyed talking to the running backs coaches at Texas [Larry Porter] and Texas A&M [Clarence McKinney]. He said he has also had good conversations with the Baylor coaches. But he's focusing on being the best player he can be for the Wildcats.

"I don't really focus on the college stuff, because I still have a job to do, and that's to play a part on the football team [at Splendora]," Bradford said. "I just want to be the best, but I also want to be good when colleges come in here. Because when they're looking at me, I have people on my team who work just as hard, and it'll become easier for them [to get looks from colleges] since I'm already getting scouted. So I want to do the best I can so my teammates can get more chances too."

Make no mistake, Bradford is hungry for the opportunity to get to the next level and perhaps beyond. He and Splendora alum and current NFL defensive end Brian Robison have occasionally exchanged tweets, and this week, Robison came down to his former high school to visit with the players in the program, including Bradford. Seeing somebody who is where Bradford would ultimately like to be and has been on the same stomping grounds serves as inspiration.

"It's cool to meet someone who has been to the state track meet and won, played on our [football] field, worked out here, and made it to the NFL," Bradford said.