Defensive back may also play special teams, running back
Jeryl Brazil sat patiently during LSU football Media Day as waves of reporters dropped by his station, making him the most popular target for interviews among freshmen.
The former track star from Loranger was asked what question did he get hit with the most. “Am I the fastest guy on the team,” he replied proudly but also a tad wearily.
“Well, are you?”
How fast is Brazil? Well, think Trindon Holliday — only faster. As a high-school junior Brazil ran 55 meters in 6.25 seconds, breaking the Louisiana record once held by Holliday, a former dual-sport Tiger who now plays for the Denver Broncos.
As a senior, Brazil won the state indoor title with the nation’s fastest time of 6.27, then won the indoor national title in the 60-meter dash in New York.
“Trindon was a fast guy, and I broke his record in the indoor track season and that meant a lot to me,” Brazil said. “He’s an outstanding football player still to this day, and I look up to him.”
Literally, the 5-foot-5 Holliday would have to look up to Brazil, 5-10, 189 pounds.
Despite all his success on the track, Brazil isn’t just a speedy football novice. He played quarterback, running back and defensive back at Loranger. He participated in the Under Armour All-American Bowl and was a member of The Advocate Super Dozen.
“To run track, you have to have speed or endurance,” Brazil said. “I knew if I could move that over to the football field, I could do a lot of things, because speed can’t be coached. I can do a lot of things others can’t do.”
Brazil can do so many things that the biggest problem the LSU coaches have with him is figuring out the best way to use him.
Coach Les Miles said Brazil is being used first as a defensive back, secondly as a kick returner, and also as a running back. It was expected that Brazil would get some reps at running back early in camp as insurance in case Jeremy Hill wouldn’t be available.
But Hill, the Tigers’ leading rusher a year ago, was reinstated from suspension on the first day of preseason camp, and Brazil has continued to get opportunities in the backfield.
Brazil said offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and running backs coach Frank Wilson “want me to be a speed guy who can make a move and use my speed in open space.”
When Miles and Wilson attended Loranger’s game at University High last season, Brazil showed them what he could do, accumulating 300 all-purpose yards in a 26-21 victory.
“I had to showcase what I could do for coach Miles and the other (LSU coaches),” Brazil said.
When asked if he’s more comfortable at any particular position, Brazil said, “I’m most comfortable wherever they put me. I try to master all positions that I play.”
Brazil was pretty fast when it came to picking a college, also as he was the first commitment in the Tigers’ 2013 class.
“I felt at home,” Brazil said. “I’ve been here all my life. I’ve been a big fan of LSU football, and I always loved it. I looked up to the guys on the team, and I knew this was the place for me to be.”
Brazil is one of three freshman defensive backs in this class, all of whom have ties to a former Tiger. Cornerback Tre’Davious White is a “God brother” of former LSU All-America cornerback and fellow Shreveport native Morris Claiborne. Safety Rickey Jefferson is a younger brother of former Tigers quarterback Jordan Jefferson.
“We’re not blood related, but ever since I was 7 years old, I’ve looked up to him,” White said of Claiborne, now with the Dallas Cowboys. “I followed after him and tried to do things the way he does them. We’re real close.”
Claiborne arrived at LSU as a potential wide receiver or cornerback and quickly proved to be most valuable as a corner because of his coverage skills and hands. He also was a standout kickoff returner and became a first-round pick after the 2011 season.
“When I got here, everybody said I remind them so much of him,” White said. “But every day, I came out here and just try to be the best I can be. I always call him and text him to get a little feedback or info on how I can get better.
“He just told me to try and be myself and execute all things the coaches want — always prepare hard and play hard, show them that you want to play and that you’re ready.”
Jefferson seemed ready when camp began with a week’s worth of split-squad practices, and he was assigned to the varsity workout in the morning, though most of the freshmen worked in the afternoon.
“(The coaches) just wanted me to learn and be ready to play,” Jefferson said. “They wanted me to learn the schemes as fast as possible.”
Apparently he was a quick study because Miles said, “Rickey Jefferson is certainly going to be on the field a lot.”
Jefferson, who pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor resisting arrest in connection with an altercation at a Mardi Gras parade in February in Metairie, said Jordan encouraged him to attend LSU even though Jordan often was criticized for his play and his arrest after a bar fight as a senior.
Rickey said he never wavered in his commitment to the Tigers.
“I’m not the type to worry about what everybody else has to say,” Jefferson said. “At the end of the day, everybody in this facility took care of my brother, and I know that.
“The people on the outside don’t know a thing, but the people on the inside know what type of a person my brother is, and that’s why they took care of him so much.”