BRANDON RADCLIFF RUNNING THE BALL
Running Back Brandon Radcliff’s final recruitment by the Cardinals surprised many local people as everyone thought that Central High School’s star Running Back, Anthony Wales, was going to get that last open spot on Louisville’s recruitment list. However, Wales was not moving forward with the needed commitment to Louisville. Surprisingly and suddenly, this RB from Miami had that offer. Everyone knows and trusts Head Coach Charlie Strong and Recruiting Coordinator of the year, Clint Hurtt, but who is this new guy? Cardinal Dominance talked to his High School Coach who explained why Brandon chose Louisville, he addressed what Brandon brings to the Cards (and it is something the Cards need), and how this guy averaged nearly 10 yards per carry --- is that crazy or what! Only Brandon’s results will stop the “what if” questions about his late signing but they will CEASE as this guy is the real deal that gives the Cards another option that our opponents have to get ready to try and control.
Miami’s Columbus High School Coach Chris Merritt has numerous ties to this surrounding area. He is a native of Bloomington, Indiana and chose to play for his home town University and attended I.U. with one of his close high school friends, Pat Knight. Ironically, Coach Howard Schnellenberger tried to recruit him to play at U of L. He attended I.U. from 88 to 92 and was a safety on their Football team where he was a captain his senior year. As a Middle School student, his first job was selling subscriptions to the Courier Journal. His mom is also from central Kentucky. After graduation and a coaching jaunt in Europe and a small college, he interviewed for the job at Columbus High School in Miami. The hiring process was handled by Purdue and former NFL great Bob Griese, a native of Evansville, Indiana. Coach Merritt has been a Head Coach for 17 years, 11 of which have been at Columbus, an 8A class school which is the highest division in Florida. Columbus is located in Miami, Dade County where there are thirty two 8A schools. In his 11 years at Columbus, Coach Merritt’s record is an impressive 99-23 and this coming year, he is sending 12 guys to play college Football, five to Division 1 and seven to Division 2 and 3. This past year, their record was 11-3 with loses to Miramar, the #3 ranked team in the nation by 7 in the playoffs; to Central 37-34 on a last second play; and to Miami Northwestern by 3 on a late play as well. Columbus fielded the number 1 Offense in tough Dade County. Their number 1 victory margin was 12 points. Additionally, they were ranked number 1 in rushing and number 2 in passing.
Coach Merritt has had “the pleasure of watching Brandon grow up and I am extremely proud of the young man he became.” His older brother played for Merritt when Radcliff was young and he was always at the football field. When “that little guy” grew up, Brandon Radcliff became his main runner. But Brandon suffered a dislocated elbow his sophomore year and then a tough ACL injury his junior year and was still recovering from the post season surgery for most of his senior year. It turns out Brandon nearly played his entire junior season with an 80% torn ACL. Fortunately during his senior year, Brandon and the team had 2 other good runners so Merritt was able to substitute regularly which allowed Radcliff to minimize the potential for reinjuring his knee, i.e. he didn’t have to carry the full load. Merritt remarked “His senior year was pretty much a rehab year for him.” Still at that, Brandon nearly averaged an incredible and unbelievable 10 yards per carry behind an OL that only had one D1 player and against Miami 8A opponents which fielded the best players in the country. As a result of his effort, he was First String All Dade County at Tailback. Merritt disclosed “The reason he was First String All County was because everyone in the county (Dade) knew who he was and feared him.” He was also 3rd string All State in Florida even with having the small amount of average carries per game as the other two running backs at his school due to splitting time evenly with those two guys. Radcliff is now 100% recovered. Rivals and Scout both have Brandon listed as a 3 star. For Rivals, his height and weight is posted at 5’10” and 215 pounds. Scout has him at 5’10” and 205 pounds. Coach Merritt emphatically said he was closer to 218 to 220 pounds and 5’10”. C.D. inquired what he thought Brandon’s greatest physical attribute was and he stoically revealed “He’s physically very well put together; he’s a very strong 218.” The Doctor who performed the ACL surgery after Brandon’s junior season told Coach Merritt that Brandon was incredibly muscular and put together quite well. His superior muscular physique helped Brandon play with the injury and also aided in minimizing his recovery time. “He’s just a very physical strong kid.”
BRANDON UP THE MIDDLE
COMPLIMENTS OF 247 SPORTS
C.D.’s Dimori has reported that Brandon is a tough “between the tackle” runner. When asked if Brandon was a north/south or and an east/west runner, Coach Merritt quickly corrected the questioner: “He’s a NORTH runner. There isn’t any south to him. If he’s not falling forward, I’m surprised ….. he’s got enough shake to get himself through (the line). Then (this past fall) in about the 4th quarter he started really taking over a lot of games when the defenses started getting a little tired and he’s busting through the line like an angry bull ….. there’s not a lot of messing around with the way he runs.”
Brandon Radcliff is the type of running back that the Cards need. UL has fast runner in Senorise Perry, Jeremy Wright, Dominique Brown, and Corvin Lamb. They all run hard but they haven’t yet shown that the Cardinals can consistently get the interior tough yards. Interior tough yards will be Radcliff’s contribution.
The four schools who were under final consideration for Brandon were Louisville, Cincinnati, Michigan State, and Notre Dame. Coach Clint Hurtt was U of L’s main recruiter and Coach Merritt felt Brandon chose U of L because “at the end of the day, he developed a really good relationship with Clint Hurtt. I think with Coach Strong --- and the whole situation that was going on up there and just the way things were coming together there (were the reasons). He held a strong belief that Louisville was going in the right direction and he wanted to be a part of that success. There are a lot of kids down here from Dade County that told Brandon how good it really was up there. Teddy Bridgewater was a kid down here that we ran into a lot on Friday nights and those kids knew each other as well as Eli Rogers. All those kids knew each other really well.” Coach Bedford would say that Brandon heard about and saw a good thing and JUMPED ON THE TRAIN!
When CD solicited Coach Merritt about Brandon’s personality, Merritt responded “To catch that kid without a smile is a rarity. You would think that a kid who runs like that --- who basically looks like he runs angry… (but)he is all smiles… he is a kid who loves life, has a good time of it, and also is pretty darned loyal. Down here in Dade County, I won’t lie to you, it’s a constant battle to keep your own kids. But he bought into what we were doing and he led us. … Academically, he got behind the 8 ball early on but don’t let him fool you, he is very, very intelligent and I am extremely proud of how good he did in the classroom when he needed to ----- and taking the entrance test. We are extremely proud of him.” Regarding his family, Coach Merritt said they were a bunch of hard workers and he especially has a great relationship with his older brother Gerald who Coach Merritt felt is a great role model for Brandon. Gerald was Brandon’s brother who played for Merritt and went on to play college ball.
Brandon Radcliff was First String All Dade County, 3rd string Florida All State, and averaged nearly 10 yards per carry his senior year while splitting time with two other guys. He has been described as an Angry Bull who runs between the tackles with enough shake to get through the line and cause damage to a defense. U of L has 4 other running weapons that will cause the opponent’s Defensive Coordinator to spend a lot of coaching hours devising schemes to try and stop the Cards rushing attack. Now add a North-South runner ----ehhhh, no, make that: Now add a NORTH runner (who is extremely physically powerful) to Strong’s desire and strategy to control the ball with his running game and WAH LAH! Charlie’s chances just improved to do just that --- particularly in the 4th quarter when the opponents start wearing down. This fall, look for Brandon to earn some of the Running Back minutes and help the Cards control the ball down the stretch as Charlie et al rush weapon after weapon at our opponent’s Defense and control the ball against the tiring competition. Freshman Brandon Radcliff will be a part of that scheme and strategy.
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