NC State

From unheralded tight end to top center, NC State’s Garrett Bradbury takes home national award

NC State’s Garrett Bradbury scores a touchdown

Watch a time-lapse as NC State's 300 lbs center Garrett Bradbury runs the ball in for a touchdown and celebrates with Terronne Prescod in the Wolfpack's victory over ECU at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, NC, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018.
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Watch a time-lapse as NC State's 300 lbs center Garrett Bradbury runs the ball in for a touchdown and celebrates with Terronne Prescod in the Wolfpack's victory over ECU at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, NC, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018.

Garrett Bradbury started his college career at tight end for N.C. State. He capped off his senior year on Thursday with the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded each season to the best center in college football.

Not bad for a three-star recruit who made two position switches before he found his niche as a blocker. The second switch, from the defensive to the offensive line, was Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren’s call.

“I’m very thankful he made that decision for me,” Bradbury said.

Bradbury, a fifth-year senior, anchored an N.C. State offensive line that helped running back Reggie Gallaspy rush for 1,012 yards, quarterback Ryan Finley throw for 3,789 yards and receivers Kelvin Harmon (1,1866) and Jakobi Meyers (1,028) both crack the 1,000-yard barrier.

Bradbury even got in on the statistical act. He had an 8-yard rush after a fumble recovery in the win at North Carolina and a 1-yard rushing touchdown in the win over East Carolina.

But the success of his teammates, and the work and time spent with the rest of N.C. State’s offensive line — the “Band of Brothers” — means more to Bradbury than any award.

“Individual honors for the offensive line are kind of any oxymoron,” Bradbury said. “Everything starts and ends as a group. It’s weird to take credit for an individual award.”

Bradbury had plenty of support on Thursday in Atlanta for the awards ceremony at the College Football Hall of Fame. Doeren, offensive line coach Dwayne Ledford, his family and girlfriend made the trip with him.

“It was awesome to be there in that moment, especially with all of the people who helped me get there,” Bradbury said.

Bradbury’s journey, from high school tight end at Charlotte Christian, to All-ACC center, was unusual. He spent his redshirt season at N.C. State in 2014 at tight end. With some depth concerns on the defensive line, Bradbury moved the next spring to defensive tackle, to backup Justin Jones.

Jones, a third-round pick of the Los Angeles Chargers in April, had that position under control.

Strength coach Dantonio Burnette suggested to Bradbury he might be able to help on the offensive line. Doeren saw the same potential and made the switch.

“That seems like a lifetime ago,” Bradbury said.

Bradbury started 13 games at left guard in 2016 and then moved to center in 2017. He has started every game at center the past two seasons and helped the Wolfpack win nine games in each of the past two seasons. N.C. State has had a 1,000-yard rusher in each season Bradbury has been a starter.

Before this season, Ledford asked Bradbury about his goals for the season. Continuing the streak of 1,000-yard rushers (the third straight year) was on Bradbury’s list, as was making the All-ACC team and winning the Rimington trophy.

“We sat down before summer workouts and talked about his goals,” Ledford said. “To watch him go out and achieve those goals is something very special. He has earned everything he is receiving and he has a bright future in front of him.”

Bradbury is the second ACC player (Florida State’s Bryan Stork in 2013) to win the Rimington Trophy, which was first awarded in 2000.

A projected second-round pick, Bradbury said he will play in N.C. State’s bowl game against Texas A&M on Dec. 31. After Thursday, he’ll have some extra hardware to bring along.

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