Ver­sa­tile Wolf­pack cen­ter re­ceives na­tional award

The News & Observer - - Front Page - BY JOE GIGLIO [email protected]­sob­server.com

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 8yard rush af­ter a fum­ble re­cov- ery 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

IN­DI­VID­UAL HON­ORS FOR THE OF­FEN­SIVE LINE ARE KIND OF ANY OXY­MORON. EV­ERY­THING STARTS AND ENDS AS A GROUP. IT’S WEIRD TO TAKE CREDIT FOR AN IN­DI­VID­UAL AWARD.

N.C. State cen­ter Gar­rett Brad­bury

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 sec­on­dround 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.

N.C. State cen­ter Gar­rett Brad­bury (65) runs for a touch­down against East Carolina in Raleigh on Dec. 1. Brad­bury has won the Rim­ing­ton Tro­phy, which is awarded to the best cen­ter in col­lege foot­ball.

N.C. State’s Gar­rett Brad­bury cel­e­brates with Brady Bo­dine af­ter Bo­dine’s touch­down against Geor­gia State on Sept. 8.

N.C. State cen­ter Gar­rett Brad­bury (65) opens up a hole against Louisville as run­ning back Reg­gie Gal­laspy II runs to open ground in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 17.

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