Leesville’s Berrios set to make college football choice

cgrant@newsobserver.comOctober 10, 2013 

Leesville Road's quarterback Braxton Berrios (8) looks for running room in their game against Panther Creek on Friday, September 20, 2013.

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— Leesville Road standout Braxton Berrios has garnered national attention and accolades for his play on the field, but the senior let the world in on another talent Monday as he released a list of his top five prospective schools via Twitter in the form of a rap.

The gesture was the latest example of how Berrios has handled being a four-star recruit in a highly-visible digital age.

“Recruiting is a great ‘problem,’ I guess you can say, to have. It’s been a great process,” he said. “I’ve had fun. ... Then from time to time, like now, it’s a little stressful and you have to figure some stuff out.”

Berrios narrowed more than 20 scholarship offers to five – Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Miami and Oregon – and will announce which college jersey he plans to wear at a Saturday press conference in the Leesville Road High School auditorium at noon.

On Wednesday evening he donned a black T-shirt with the words “I don’t know yet” sewn on the front.

With less than 72 hours until his scheduled announcement, he was still weighing his options.

“(I’m someone) who wants to please everybody, so that makes this ten times harder,” he said.

Berrios, who plays quarterback for Leesville, will likely play slot receiver at the next level. He led the Pride to three convincing wins to start the season, averaging 142.5 yards rushing and scoring nine touchdowns before being injured in Leesville’s nonconference contest against Panther Creek last month.

Berrios missed the second half of that game, which Panther Creek came back to win. Sidelined with a sprained left foot, he has watched the Pride go 1-1 since then.

“It’s terrible,” he said. “I have full faith in my team and full confidence, but it’s hard when you can’t go out on the field and do anything.”

Berrios, a four-year starter on offense and defense for the Pride, has made an impact since he first stepped onto the field.

“With his ability and his maturity, you could tell that he belonged very early in his career,” Leesville Road coach Chad Smothers said. “His maturity seemed to be two years ahead of a normal ninth grader coming in, and I think that’s from hanging around (his older brother, East Carolina receiver) Austin. ... By his sophomore year, at that point there were things athletically he was doing that was starting to set himself apart from other kids.”

He was recently named an Under Armour All-American and to the annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas team.

This has been a long time coming for Berrios, who started playing football at age 7 with the Capital City Steelers Pop Warner team.

Leesville Road coaches eyed him as a standout while he played for Leesville Road Middle School.

“I remember walking during my eighth grade year, it was the first practice with pads, and I said ‘This is where is starts,’” Berrios recalled.

His first offer, from North Carolina, came on April 14, 2012.

Nearly 18 months later, he will announce his choice. It’s a big decision, but one that will allow him to focus on enjoying the rest of his time at Leesville Road.

“I have homecoming that night, so I’m labeled ‘college’ at 12 to 1, and then I get to go back and be a high school student. So it’ll be a relief, a nice change of pace, and from then on I’m really soaking up my last two months of high school,” said Berrios, who plans to graduate at the end of the fall semester. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Grant: 919-829-4538

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