Former Lakeside High School standout Brian Bratton was not a household name among college recruiters three years ago when he wrapped up his prep football career with the Panthers.
Bratton had some sensational moments at Lakeside, such as his 214 rushing yards and three touchdowns - on just eight carries - in a win over Butler during his senior season.
His athleticism was obvious, but Bratton never had a true position on the prep gridiron. Lakeside used him at wide receiver, quarterback, tailback and defensive back, but Bratton was at his best with the ball in his hands in the open field.
So when he signed with Furman University, a team which was loaded with receivers, Bratton was transformed into a kick returner for the Paladins.
All Bratton did was earn freshman All-American honors, returning three kicks for touchdowns while averaging 37 yards per return to lead the nation in Division I-AA.
Bratton, who is now a junior at Furman, has become the Paladins' big-play man. While Furman has struggled to a 5-4 record, Bratton has emerged as a solid candidate for the All-Southern Conference team. He leads Furman with 34 receptions, which nearly doubles the total of his closest teammate.
Also, Bratton has 481 receiving yards,, which is nearly twice as much as any other Furman receiver. What's more, Furman has recorded six touchdown passes, with four going to Bratton.
But that's not all: Bratton has 19 carries for 152 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown run. His 7.8 yards per carry also leads the team.
When your throw in Bratton's return yardage, he is among the conference's best, with over 1,000 all-purpose yards.
In recent years, an increasing number of small-college players have started to have an impact in the National Football League, and the NFL isn't just a pipe dream for Bratton.
He will certainly get a shot in the NFL, but he will have one more season to shine at Furman.
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