- Jon Mahoney, ESPNHS.com
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Braxton Berrios is making a habit of stepping up when the opportunity presents itself.
As a fifth-grader, he helped guide his Pop Warner team, the Capital City Steelers, to a national championship.
Then this past fall, the Leesville Road (Raleigh, N.C.) sophomore receiver/safety took over as the team’s starting quarterback after his brother Austin, a senior, tore his ACL returning the opening kickoff in the regular season finale. Braxton ran for 245 yards in the 41-16 victory over Wake Forest-Rolesville (Wake Forest, N.C.) to lead the Pride to their first outright conference title.
Berrios finished the year rushing for 1,251 yards and 21 touchdowns and tallying 519 receiving yards and four scores.
And once the season ended after a loss to Garner (N.C.) in the Class 4AA eastern regional final, Berrios got to work. It showed on March 10 at the Nike Football SPARQ Combine in Charlotte when he posted the highest SPARQ rating (119.52) of all the competitors.
Now the buzz is starting to build for the 5-foot-10, 170-pounder. What does he plan to do to keep the momentum going?
Get Familiar with Braxton Berrios.
ESPNHS: What was it like winning a Pop Warner national championship?
Berrios: Back then, you’re young and don’t realize the importance of what it’s going to mean. When the clock struck zero, it was an indescribable feeling.
ESPNHS: Describe what it was like watching your brother go through his knee injury.
Berrios: He went down on the opening kickoff. I was in front blocking for him and he yelled. I knew he was out for the game after I heard that. He was the leader. When we found out he had a torn ACL, it was devastating. The two of us had this dream to lead Leesville Road to a championship. To have it end like it did, it sucked.
ESPNHS: What did his injury teach you about playing the game?
Berrios: It was over in a split second, so play every second like it’s your last. He coached me the rest of the year. It was almost like he was on the field. It helped me a lot. He made me look good, I’m not going to lie.
ESPNHS: What was your mindset going into the Charlotte combine?
Berrios: You want to win it, but you can’t say going in that if you don’t, you failed. As long as I went in there and did what I thought I could and didn’t come out on top, that’s OK -- somebody had a better day. I was surprised and happy (after I finished first). It’s a great honor, but I know there’s still a lot to do.
I was in the car on my way to the mountains with my dad and uncle and I found out through Twitter that I finished with the highest score. It was relieving to say the least.
ESPNHS: Has your performance led to any early offers?
Berrios: I don’t have any offers yet. Hopefully it made a statement. But I really want that first one and everything will happen from there.
ESPNHS: What are your goals now after your successful combine?
Berrios: It motivates me. Normally you don’t see a guy win a combine without any hype around them. Now that I won that, what else can I do to show them? What else can I do to open their eyes?
School: Leesville Road (Raleigh, N.C.)
Position: Wide receiver/safety
TV Show: “The King of Queens”
Movie: “The Pursuit of Happyness”
Athlete: Ray Lewis
School Subject: Math