PANTHER OF THE WEEK: Senior safety thrives despite position changes
By Scott Akanewich
When Brady Brewer was growing up on gridirons, he always carried the ball.
Mostly a running back by trade in the early days of his football career, he enjoyed churning out yards and finally reaching pay dirt in the end zone.
Fast-forward to his sophomore season at Liberty Hill and all of a sudden, he found himself on the other side of the line of scrimmage, attempting to stop opposing offenses from advancing the ball as opposed to moving the chains instead.
“At first, I didn’t think I was going to like playing defense,” said the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder. “But, now after having played offense, it helps me tremendously because I can see things from an offensive perspective.”
Speaking of which, film study becomes even more paramount to success on the defensive side of the ball, said Brewer.
“As an offensive player, you know what’s going to happen when the play is run, but as a defender, watching video is a must,” he said. “I think playing defense takes a lot more effort.”
Initially, Brewer played corner, which he continued throughout his sophomore and junior seasons. However, he’s switched over to safety in this, his senior campaign.
According to Brewer, all along it’s simply been a matter of where and how he can best help the team.
“I think the first two years, I was more of a benefit at corner because we had older guys at the safety positions,” said Brewer.
Dropping back and being able to play center field in the secondary as opposed to tight, one-on-one coverage at corner is something that suits him well, he said.
“Safety is more physical than corner and you need to be able to trust your eyes more as far as reading the play as it unfolds as opposed to being locked in with a single player,” said Brewer.
A physical presence in the defensive secondary is something Panthers head Coach Jeff Walker likes to have on his roster, he said.
“We always like to have a safety who can be a guy who can hit somebody,” said Walker.
Brewer is also a leader on the field, which is a requirement as far as Walker is concerned.
“Brady’s basically the quarterback of our defense,” he said. “He’s not really vocal, but the secondary respects him and he’s doing a good job in that role.”
Something else that helps Brewer perform at peak levels on the football field is the fact he also plays basketball and runs track for the Panthers. In this day and age of specialization, when many athletes will choose a single sport to focus on once they reach the high school level, Brewer has continued to be a three-sport athlete.
“Playing other sports can help me athletically when it comes to football,” he said. “For example, in basketball, there are movements which help my speed. But, I enjoy playing all sports.”
On the track in the spring, Brewer competes in the 100 meters, as well as the 4×100 and 4×200-meter relays.
“I think track practices really bring out the best in everyone,” he said. “It’s really a question of how much do you want to win when you’re just out there running.”
On this day under partly cloudy skies at Panther Stadium, Brewer and his teammates are put through the paces right on the heels of the first day of school. Once the period bells are going off once again, athletes now suddenly have more to concern themselves with and the need to study more than only a playbook arises, although for him, his schedule is a bit lighter in the classroom, which helps alleviate some of the pressure, he said.
“In previous years, it was more of a problem because I always had a full schedule of classes,” said Brewer. “But, now as a senior, it’s eased up a bit, but going from summer practice back to school is still definitely a transition.”
As for being a senior on the field, he embraces the role of being out front of his troops leading them into battle each week.
“It’s a pretty big responsibility, But I feel like I’ve always been a leader on our team,” he said. “However, I used to just lead by example, but now I have to be more vocal. Now, even when I’m not in the game, I work at keeping everyone on track.”
Coming off a Class 4A state championship game last season, expectations for this year’s squad are magnified. But for Brewer, all that does is actually make it easier to focus on the job at hand, he said.
“I really don’t look at it as pressure,” said Brewer. “In fact, it’s a good thing and it’s not really pressure if you work hard for it. But, nobody expects us to be the team from last year.”
So, what’s it like to get up a full head of steam and put a hat on a ballcarrier?
“It’s what all defenders want,” he said.
Possibly, the only thing that tops that in Brewer’s opinion is wearing a Liberty Hill jersey on game nights, he said.
“It’s really crazy,” said Brewer. “It’s a dream come true.”