Landon Brazile redefines “late bloomer.”
At 6-feet-5 and 230 pounds, he was hard to miss at Thurgood Marshall High School after transferring from Centerville in the spring of his sophomore year.
The only problem for then-Cougars head football coach Earl White was that Brazile was all about basketball. Besides, he had never played football.
That didn’t stop White from constantly pushing Brazile on college football recruiters, all of whom were interested in other Thurgood standouts.
“I told (Brazile) that the day you put a helmet on your head, you become a recruit,” recalled White.
Brazile lit up the recruiting radar in summer camps prior to his season season. He was offered a football scholarship by the University of Cincinnati before he played a down.
“Stay patient, because things happen for a reason,” reflected Brazile, who joined many area seniors who signed National Letters of Intent to play football and other sports on Wednesday, the first day of the week-long early February signing period.
“If you can keep your head on straight, things will happen.”
Finally coaxed into playing football as a senior, Brazile parlayed that into a full athletic scholarship to UC.
Joining Brazile in signing was senior teammate Vayante Copeland who’s headed to defending Big Ten and Rose Bowl champion Michigan State.
Copeland, a standout defensive back and running back, was one of five area players to sign with Big Ten football teams. The others were offensive lineman Wesley Martin (Milton-Union) and linebacker Airius Moore (Beavercreek) with Indiana, defensive lineman Otito Odenigbo (Centerville) with Illinois and lineman Jared Weyler (Centerville) with Minnesota.
Missing was any area player to sign with Ohio State. Northmont defensive back/wide receiver Isiah Williams came the closest, headed to the Buckeyes as a preferred walk-on.
Last season Trotwood-Madison defensive back Cameron Burrows, Centerville offensive lineman Evan Lisle and Lebanon preferred walk-on and quarterback Luke Morgan all were picked by OSU.
Two area players landed with a Southeastern Conference football programs Wednesday. Wayne linebacker Dorian Hendrix and Springfield receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass signed with Kentucky.
Worsening winter weather and school cancellations forced the postponement of many signing ceremonies scheduled for Wednesday. The Greater Western Ohio Conference has rescheduled its football ceremony to 1 p.m. Friday at the Huber Heights Athletic Foundation Center. The event is open to the public.
Most seniors signed on Wednesday and faxed letters of intent to their colleges.
Brazile, a defensive end, quickly developed into a shut-down defender in his only season with Thurgood football. The Cougars (7-4) went two games into the playoffs, falling to then-unbeaten Tippecanoe 30-13 in the Division III, Region 10 semifinals.
Brazile, now 6-6 and 255, was part of a defense that didn’t allow a point in four games of City League play.
“I wouldn’t change anything,” he said before an appreciative signing crowd of family, students, coaches and Thurgood administrators on Wednesday at the school.
Both Brazile and Copeland were first-team D-III All-Ohio. Copeland also was a co-defensive player of the year.
Brazile is projected as a hybrid defensive lineman/linebacker at UC. Copeland has sprinter speed — he’s the defending D-II state 400 meters champion — and likely will be in the Spartans’ secondary.
Copeland’s roommate during summer camp at MSU will be former Dunbar defensive back Roger Williamson, the Spartans’ nickel back last season who’ll be a junior.
“I talk to RJ at least every other day,” Copeland said. “He’s a good influence and he’s from (Dayton), too. He’s been giving me tips and tools about how to get on the field.”
Wednesday’s early signing period was for football, field hockey, soccer and track and field/cross country. The November early signing period was for basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, golf, tennis, wrestling, swimming and bowling.