Last night, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I came across a picture that really caught my eye, the picture was of a little kid touching the frame that protected the picture of Kavosiey Smoke, a former Wetumpka High School football standout, who is now flourishing in The Bluegrass State of Kentucky as a running back on the Kentucky Wildcats football team led by head coach, Mark Stoops. The kid in the picture is Tristan Jackson, the son of former WHS football player, OJ Jackson, however Gayle Henderson Coker Perry posted the picture with the message: “‘Just a reminder to all you “big boys” out there you have no idea how big your influence may be. Little eyes may be watching, and not only in football!!”‘I proceeded to comment: “‘In every sport and in every aspect of life.”‘ The point of this piece is, you never know who is watching, give your all in everything you do.
We’re now just 15 short days away from Auburn’s first football game of 2019 vs. Oregon in Jerry’s World and yet Auburn head football coach, Gus Malzahn, still hasn’t found the ‘perfect’ starting quarterback. Throughout the offseason, this battle has been one of, if not the most intriguing in the country. This quarterback battle features two high-profile quarterbacks in redshirt-freshman, Joey Gatewood, and true-freshman, Bo Nix, who was a 5-star dual-threat quarterback recruit upon signing with the Tigers and departing from the two-time defending state champion, Pinson Valley High School in December of 2018. Nix has won the last two state titles under his dad, former Auburn Tiger quarterback, Patrick Nix, while leading the Pinson Valley Indians, the first in 2017 vs. Wetumpka at Bryant-Denny Stadium and the second in 2018 vs. Saraland at Nix’s then-future home, Jordan-Hare Stadium. This race has gone back and forth constantly over the offseason, if I was Malzahn, I personally, would use both of them in a platoon, like Nick Saban used Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa in 2018. Who wins it? Will we have an answer soon? The world may never know.
Not too many people I know can say that they went to school with a guy that has played football for two Division I Southeastern Conference teams however, I am one of the few people that can say that. I watched Brandon Kennedy play for two years at the high school level for my alma mater, Wetumpka High School and like many people he was bigger than me, but unlike most people, he was 6’5″ and weighed somewhere close to 300 lbs. I watched him dominate at the ranks for those two years, I also watched him play at Alabama for a few years and I’ve watched him play for my favorite team, the Tennessee Volunteers. All within the last few years. Kennedy left high school in December of 2014 to head to Tuscaloosa and be a part of the dynasty that Nick Saban has built for the past 11 years, going on 12. But prior to leaving school to enroll at The University of Alabama, he was scheduled to graduate in 2015, a year ahead of me. After he graduated from Alabama a few years back, Brandon decided to leave The Capstone and transfer elsewhere to play out his last two years of eligibility. During his time at Alabama, he won he won a national title. In 2016, my senior year of high school I had the pleasure of interview him for a promotion video project that I was a part of for the football team. Brandon is scheduled to be Tennessee’s starting center in 2019. Honestly, never in a million years did I think I would attend the same high school as a multi-Southeastern Conference football player but I did and I still can’t believe it to this day.
Normally, I write about Braves Baseball, but tonight I decided to write about football, a sport that I haven’t written about yet. We all love football season, the sights of traditions, the sounds of helmets colliding, whistles blowing, rowdy fans screaming at the referees from the stands and all of the things tied in with the sport of football, especially college football down here in the South, where it’s all about the Iron Bowl and Alabama and Auburn, it’s about bragging rights when it comes down to it. But for me, a Tennessee fan, I just hope we make it to a bowl game, sadly. In just a few weeks, Florida and Miami will kick off the football season on August 24th at 6pm. As for me, a multi-sport broadcaster of almost seven years, football season is without a doubt the busiest time of the year me. During football season, I take on the responsibilities as The Voice of Wetumpka High School JV games, Wetumpka Middle School games and Wetumpka 9th grade football games. Many of you may asked ‘what do you do during the time between multiple sports?’ Here’s your answer, get ready for the next sport. In the past, I have broadcasted sports ranging from baseball to basketball and everything in between, so I don’t get much down time, but, it’s what I was born to do, so I’m not complaining. This will mark my 4th year as a football broadcaster and 7th year overall and if it’s anything like the past six, it will be incredible. Needless to say, I’m ready for the busiest months of my year.
The life of a broadcaster is hectic to say the least. Constantly busy whether the sport is in season or not. Tonight, I start preparing for football season, I know, some of you might think “baseball season just ended.” You’re right. In the high school ranks it did just end. In fact, some teams are still playing on a diamond somewhere. But tonight, I turn my talents and eyes towards the gridiron and announce the current 7th-grade spring game vs. Johnnie Carr Middle School at Hohenberg Field. There are one-sport broadcasters and one-sport athletes and then there’s two-sport athletes and multi-sport broadcasters. For me, I belong in that last category. I have broadcasted baseball, football and basketball for some time now and tonight is now. Here’s to another football season and the joys that come along with being a multi-sport broadcaster.
Around this time in 2014, I received a Facebook message from Randy Belyeu, the Wetumpka High School Softball coach at time. I knew it must’ve been important because he never messaged me out of the blue. The message read: “Hey Braxton, it’s Coach Belyeu give me a call when you get the chance.” Immediately I picked up my phone and dialed his number. He picked up and we talked for a while and then he said “I’ve been in touch with Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama, and they would love to have you up there for a baseball game, just pull up their schedule and pick the home game you want to attend.” I knew this was the start of something special. I glanced at the schedule and chose the April 13, 2014 home game vs. Murray State Racers. Once I had the game picked out I immediately started practicing. Before I knew it, the weekend was here. We left Wetumpka on a Saturday in time for the Sunday game. We spent the night at University Inn just miles from Rudy Abbott Field. Sunday morning, I woke up quickly and rushed out of the hotel room as I had to meet former Jacksonville State Baseball coach Rudy Abbott that morning and I refused to be late. After I met Coach Abbott, we headed over to the baseball field. I was only expecting to announce half the game at the most, but I ended up announcing the entire game. Never give up on your dream, even when times get rough God might have something great right around the corner.
Next entry: A Visit With Rod Bramblett and Auburn Baseball.