adidas canada Bracy races for spot
INDIANAPOLIS Marvin Bracy spent the past four years chasing Usain Bolt.
Now he’s trying to run down a spot on the Indianapolis Colts’ 53 man roster.
On Tuesday, the 2016 Olympian was at the center of a media huddle at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Complex after completing his first NFL training camp practice.
Some athletes might blanch at the thought of leaving a comfortable career as a professional sprinter for an uncertain future as a prospective wide receiver. Bracy never thought twice about the move.
“Obviously, passion for the sport,” he said in response to a query about his sudden change of direction. “I walked away from a consistent track contract, in which I was making a great living, to pursue another dream. And just to make it happen, man, it’s still surreal to me.”
As one might have guessed by now, Bracy is no ordinary undrafted free agent addition.
The 5 foot 9, 172 pound speedster also is no stranger to the surreal.
He was offered a pro track contract during his senior year of high school in Orlando, Fla., and walked away from a football scholarship at Florida State after one redshirt season.
He nearly left track, too, after his breakout 2015 campaign because he’s never really been able to resist the siren’s call of the gridiron. But he missed the deadline to declare for the 2016 NFL draft and chose to honor the final year of his track contract with Adidas rather than potentially head to the Canadian Football League. Olympic Trials and qualified for the team in Rio de Janeiro. indoor championships in the 60 meter dash from 2014 through 2016 and a silver medal in the 60 at the World Indoor Championships in 2014.
“To go in there and to see 85,000 people and the lights dim and everybody’s eyes are on you, it was fun,” Bracy said of his Rio experience. “It was nice to go out there and compete. I wish I was a little bit more healthier and I might have got better results, but overall the experience was great. I would do it again if I could.”
Instead, Bracy dedicated himself to returning to a sport he hadn’t played since 2012.
Unlike many sprinters who have attempted to make the transition to football in the past, Bracy is not new to the game.
He was ranked as the No. 6 high school prospect in talent rich central Florida during his senior year and was chosen to play in the Under Armour All American Game in 2012. His one handed touchdown grab during the contest even made it onto SportsCenter’s “Top 10” highlight reel for the day.
But there’s obviously a significant leap to the professional level.
He tried out for the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints during their rookie mini camps this spring, but missed the final day at the former stop was diagnosed with a sports hernia at the latter and underwent surgery in May.
His private workout Monday with the Colts was the first time he feels an NFL team has seen him at 100 percent.
Highly regarded wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal told Bracy he was impressed with his 40 yard dash time (he was clocked at 4.30 seconds during Florida State’s pro day this spring) and his route running. The rest of what he needs to succeed at the position can be taught.
“I demonstrated things that I didn’t even know I had,” Bracy said. “I ran great routes, caught the ball well and just got through it. And obviously they saw something they liked.”
He was given a specific package of plays to study Monday night at the Colts’ training camp hotel and ran those exclusively during Tuesday’s practice. As time rolls on, those reps could grow.
Still, Bracy is months behind his new teammates in learning the system, and he’s lost more than a week of training camp opportunities.
Injuries to Harvey Binford (who was waived to make room for Bracy on the roster), Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett created a need for another wide receiver in practice.
Bracy’s speed helped give him the chance to fill the void, but there are no promises beyond the next practice.
“For me, there is no ceiling,” Bracy said. “It’s all up from here. I am at the bottom of the totem pole, and I just have to work my way up and learn the system.”