Saturday, November 28, 2009
Football journey: Ron Brace
By Mike Reiss
On Saturdays throughout the season, the plan will be to highlight one Patriots player’s football journey. This week, it is rookie defensive lineman Ron Brace.
Brace, the 40th overall selection in the 2009 draft, has been active for five games this season and has played mostly on special teams (field goal block unit) and in a short-yardage role on defense.
When his football journey started: “It started because my father played and basically I wanted to do the same thing he did. I was too big to play Pop Warner in Springfield, so I had to wait until high school. I liked defense because I could hit people. I had to quit basketball because I was getting too many fouls.”
On his father Ronald’s football career: “He was a running back and cornerback, so it was definitely a different spectrum. I was bigger, but I had some of his athleticism so that helped out a lot. He played at Springfield Commerce and American International College. He’s someone I always looked up to.”
Watching football growing up: “Being from New England, I was a Patriots fan. More than anything, though, I was into watching the linemen play. I didn’t care as much who won, but more of who had a good defensive game.”
Playing high school football at Burncoat in Worcester: “I really didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know anything about it. The first day of the first camp of high school, my dad drew out every position -- offense and defense -- and he said ‘this is where you’ll be playing.’ He was pointing to the linemen.”
Fond memories of high school: “The biggest one is probably when we made it to the Super Bowl my senior year. We didn’t win it, but it was back in Springfield, which made it meaningful back in my hometown.”
On attending Boston College: “They had told me I would play defense, but then there was talk I might play offense. I had the thought ‘If I’m playing offense, I’m leaving.’ But it was defense and I started to learn it more. I had to learn the game. I didn’t know much about football coming out of high school except for hitting the dude with the ball. There was a lot more to learn.”
Top memories at BC: “Probably the year we went to the Champs Sports Bowl. That year was fun. That was when people started to notice me, talking about the possibility of the NFL. That was the year BJ [Raji] was out. We won the bowl game, and that was nice.”
Entering the NFL: “At first, I didn’t really think it was going to happen. I went to train in Atlanta and worked on my pass-rush techniques and was getting ready for the East-West game, but then the day before I was supposed to leave, I got invited to the Senior Bowl. Then it was the Combine after that. I was grateful for the chance. Then to get drafted by your hometown team, it’s been a pretty good journey so far.”
Life in the pros: “A real big eye-opener. I just appreciate the game even more because of all the work you put into it. You don’t realize, from the outside, how much guys are in meetings, studying film, and how deep you study the opponent.”
What he likes about football: "I like the hard work and reaping the benefits on game day. All the guys are working hard throughout the week, working together, and we all win together or lose together. It’s a real team sport. Basketball can be more individual. Football is everybody.”