On Twitter, he calls himself @HNYNUT_BERRIOS. On the gridiron, Leesville Road (Raleigh, N.C.) star wide receiver Braxton Berrios is being called the next Wes Welker.
Berrios’ 5-foot-9, 180-pound frame is but one measure. His stats are another. Last season, Berrios scored 33 touchdowns, accumulated 740 receiving yards, and rushed for 1,260 more.
Though Berrios admits he’s far from Welker status, he said “being compared to him only creates a stronger desire to be better.”
Berrios said every effort matters, which is why he doesn’t shy away from extra training. He uses a tennis ball to improve hand-eye coordination — tossing the ball against a wall and sometimes using a tennis ball machine.
Come fall, the senior-to-be will have the chance to prove that such labors have paid off.
As part of our Ultimate Athlete profile series, Berrios steps into the spotlight to talk about his training, and what else he loves about football.
For the next eight months, we’re spotlighting cases deemed Ultimate Athlete-worthy as part of an ongoing, interactive discussion about what sport supersedes the rest. Check in for athlete profiles, smack talk, training videos and more, culminating with the crowning of the Ultimate Athlete.
Recall your earliest involvement with football. How has your interest in the sport evolved?
Berrios: My passion for the game has only grown. I was seven when I first started playing. At the time, it was just flag football. I played in the backyard with my dad, my brother and my mom. We’d do anything and everything — from catching to throwing to kicking. Back then I played just to play. Now, I play to go to college.
What makes football the toughest sport?
Berrios: The physicality of the game makes it tougher than any sport in the world. I’ve played basketball, baseball and soccer, and I can say football is the toughest. It’s hard-nosed, man versus man.
What do you think is misunderstood about the game?
Berrios: A lot of people think it’s barbaric, but there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. The game is very strategic. It’s always a thinking game, it’s mentally taxing. When you get pounded and tired, it throws everything into whack. Your mind says stop. You’re fighting with yourself.
What have you learned from playing football that you’ve applied life off the field?
Berrios: Nothing worth having comes easy. The amount of work you put in has a direct correlation with the results you obtain.
How have you helped shape your development to get to an elite level?
Berrios: I’ve probably worked out more by myself in the offseason than with anybody else. I’ll run or lift after school. I try not to leave anything questionable or feel like I could have done more.
What’s the most essential skill necessary to excel as a wide receiver?
Berrios: Great hands. There have been tall and slow All-Pro receivers and short and quick All-Pro receivers. They all have great hands in common.
What about football training is most intense?
Berrios: Conditioning. Weights can be challenging, but there’s nothing like suicides and 110-yard timed sprints.
What makes football better than other sports?
Berrios: There’s no game like it. I’ve played a lot of other sports, and I’ve never found the joy and love for something so much. Any football player feels like that. It never leaves your mind — in the offseason, in the spring and right before you go to bed. Football is a sport everybody should try if they can.