Jan. 20, 2011
By Steve Stone, Seminoles.com
Starring on the north Florida gridiron in one of the deepest states in the country for high school football talent, Florida State junior linebacker Nigel Bradham grew up wanting to play in Doak Campbell Stadium, but that didn’t stop one of the nation’s top prospects from considering each of Florida’s “Big Three” during the recruiting process
“It was pretty much an in-state battle between Florida, Miami and FSU,” Bradham said. “Once I narrowed it down to those three, it was just a matter of visiting each one and looking at their game plan and how they could use me.”
Although the state is littered with arguably the best high school talent across the country, Bradham’s immense playmaking skills placed a heavy burden on him as a standout five-star prospect. He was the type of player fans followed throughout his Wakulla High School career, hoping to see the star-studded `backer show off his side-to-side ability in their team’s colors.
Despite entertaining more than 40 scholarship offers, Bradham kept FSU’s tremendous fan base from sweating it out for too long. The consensus five-star talent committed to FSU early, feeling that its program provided the best fit for what he was looking for.
One of the top linebackers in the 2008 recruiting class, Bradham has lived up to the hype that comes with his gaudy recruiting ratings. He has made his mark in Tallahassee with 220 career tackles, including a season-high and team-best 98 wrap-ups in a momentum-building 2010 season.
It seems like yesterday when he was wondering which university he would call “home” for the next four years. Thinking back to his recruiting process and the renowned schools that hounded him with offers, Bradham calls his decision to attend FSU one of the best choices he ever made.
“Most definitely it was the biggest decision up to that point,” Bradham reflected. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, and if I could do it all over again I would make the same choice.”
The choice by any heralded prospect is always a big one, but when it comes with as much fanfare as Bradham’s, it throws a dose of maturity at you when you’re a ripe 17 or 18-year old kid. The recruiting hoopla has heightened to a whole new level in the last decade, with analysts, websites and constant updated videos of high school highlights feeding the appetite of a nation that seemingly lives, eats and breathes college football.
That’s why Bradham appreciates the experience he had of seeing his name on ESPN or hearing about himself on the local news. He knew his hard work and incredible diligence afforded him a tremendous opportunity, and he decided to embrace all the fanfare that came along with it.
He even took the press conference that was held for him in full stride once he sent his National Letter of Intent.
“It was such a great experience,” Bradham added. “But at the same time, it is a lot of pressure for you to make a decision like that. It’s a decision that can change your whole life. Who knows what might happen at the next level? There are so many choices of top-notch schools to go to. But I was comfortable coming to FSU from the beginning.”
Bradham’s senior season is shaping up to be pretty special. The Seminoles are riding high after their first double-digit win season since 2003, and are battling to win the mythical national recruiting title.
Indeed, being tabbed as a four or five-star prospect doesn’t always guarantee success. Student-athletes predicted to bolster a program can also fall below expectations due to any set of circumstances.
However, Bradham has managed to stay away from such a trap because of his comfort within the program and the university. When he first took a visit to Doak Campbell Stadium, he literally felt right at home.
“It was a combination of the coaching staff, the talent in the program and the atmosphere,” Bradham replied when asked what factors enabled him to choose FSU. “It’s a family environment. It’s great to know that the coaches here care for us not only as players, but as sons. I have great respect for our staff, and I didn’t want to leave home without feeling comfortable. The coaches here provide us with a lot of support.”
As February 2 rolls approaches and Seminole fans eagerly await the NLI from FSU’s next group of highly-touted commitments, it is important to note the past four or five-star prospects like Bradham who continue to meet the expectations of fans, players and coaches alike. With his life incredibly open to the public as a well-known high school linebacker and now a college star, Bradham never chose to shun the spotlight.
Instead, he learned to take it all in stride.
Leading up to National Signing Day, Seminoles.com will continue to provide feature stories like this one that look at how FSU recruiting was handled in years past, what the recruiting process was like for some of our current Seminole football players and what national signing day evolved into for fans, recruits and coaches. Our Seminoles.com staff will delve into these topics to give you a look back before we shift our focus to the next generation of Seminole football players.
That coverage will carry our fans right up to national signing day. On February 2, Seminoles.com will be the only place where fans will have access to the official word that a commitment is in and is binding with a National Letter of Intent (NLI). As soon as our compliance office certifies an NLI we will send out a Tweet using our official Twitter account (@Seminoles_com). We will let our fans know right away the name of the player who has officially joined the Seminole family.
Once the NLI is certified you can head over to Seminoles.com where All-Access members will be able to gain access to everything that will be going on all day long. If you are not a subscriber already, you can get a one-day All-Access pass for just $5.95 and get the same access of coverage our monthly and yearly subscribers enjoy daily.
The national signing day All-Access pass starts off with video highlights of every player who signs with the Seminoles. For the first time in school history we will also broadcast a live national signing day show that will be a part of the All-Access pass on Seminoles.com. The show will take a 60 minute look at the 2011 class, what holes the new players will be expected to fill and where this group of Seminole signees stacks up with past classes as FSU goes after the mythical national recruiting title. Keith Jones, Sun Sports’ Emmy-award winning analyst for all Florida State University college football games, and Eric Luallen, a former Seminole football player and frequent contributor to Seminole football pre-game broadcasts, will breakdown the class during the live web broadcast, which will run from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Our national signing day coverage will wrap up with the Jimbo Fisher’s National Signing Day “War Party”. The party will feature all the Seminole assistant coaches who will give fans a top to bottom break down of every athlete signed for 2011. The party is open to fans but if you cannot be there we will have the event for you streamed live via Seminoles.com All-Access. All-Access members can watch the entire event live. If you are not a current All-Access subscriber, your one-time fee of just $5.95 will get you access to the biggest Seminole recruiting party in America as well.
When it comes to definitive information on Seminole recruiting, there is no source that can offer Florida State fans the timely and accurate information they are looking for like Seminoles.com can. Bookmark Seminoles.com today, follow us on Twitter (@Seminoles_com) and even check us out on Facebook (Florida State Seminoles) to stay in the loop with everything that is official when it comes to Florida State athletics.