From high school star to NFL pick: How Brian Bracey overcame adversity

Brian Breese, Clemson defensive end, was selected by the New Orleans Saints as the 29th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night. Damascus, a former top recruit from Maryland, has faced many challenges on and off the field throughout his football career. Despite the obstacles he has faced, Bracy’s determination and resilience have helped him carve a path towards a potential NFL career.

Clemson defensive lineman Brian Breese rests before running drills at the NFL Football Scouting Combine on Thursday, March 2, 2023, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Daron Cummings) (AP)

In high school, Bresee was considered the top recruit in the country. His stellar performance on the field, which included 134 tackles and 35 sacks, earned him first-team ‘USA Today All-American’ honors twice. With offers from several prestigious football programs, Bracy ultimately chose to join the Clemson Tigers.

Bracy’s time at Clemson was plagued with injuries. A torn ACL ended his 2021 season after only four games, and in 2022, a severe bout of strep throat led to a kidney infection that led to hospitalization. Despite appearing in only 26 games and making 21 starts, Breese showed no signs of backing down from his health issues during the NFL evaluation period.

During his freshman year at Clemson, Bracy made a significant impact on the field. He was named the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year, recording four sacks, a forced fumble, two pass breakups and a safety in the 2020 season. His performance earned him Freshman All-America honors from The Athletic, ESPN and

In September, Bracey’s 15-year-old sister, Ella, passed away after a battle with aggressive brain cancer. As a testament to his sister’s memory, Bracey returned to the field, dedicating his performance during Ella’s victory over Wake Forest to her. Clemson staff and players showed their support by wearing “Ella Strong” shirts during a game against Furman.

Bresee’s athleticism sets him apart from other defensive tackles. His 40-yard dash time of 4.86 seconds, 10-yard split of 1.71 seconds and 29-inch vertical jump demonstrate his impressive speed and agility. With limited college experience due to injuries, Bresee has plenty of room to grow in the NFL.

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