Stewart Bradley about to realize NFL Dream

Stewart Bradley about to realize NFL Dream



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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BY BRIAN ROSENTHAL / Lincoln Journal Star Friday, Apr 27, 2007 - 12:43:27 am CDT

His Nebraska football career began rather innocently. A nondescript player making a big hit in an ordinary spring scrimmage.

The blurb in the practice report the following day read like this:

“Reserve middle linebacker Stewart Bradley, a walk-on from Salt Lake City, made arguably the day’s hardest hit, flattening quarterback Garth Glissman after a 2-yard gain.”

That was in 2003. Back when Bradley’s helmet easily slid over his buzz cut.

The hair grew. So did Bradley.

The football player who couldn’t get a sniff from his local colleges and universities out of high school is anxiously awaiting this weekend’s NFL Draft. At least one mock draft has Bradley going as high as the second round, and the second Nebraska player selected overall, behind defensive end Adam Carriker.

“I’m just waiting and seeing and crossing my fingers,” Bradley said this week from Salt Lake City, where he will watch the draft. “Where you go is nice as far as money and situations, but as far as playing ball and getting on the field, it doesn’t make a difference.”

Bradley’s journey to the pro ranks essentially began when Nebraska coaches saw him at one of their camps. A quarterback in high school, Bradley came to Lincoln to learn more about running the option offense, which his school, Highland High, also ran.

Bradley, though, was oft-injured in high school and only played his junior season; hence, no attention from the likes of Utah, BYU or Utah State. He took up Nebraska coaches on their walk-on offer, redshirted in 2002 and began turning heads �" literally and figuratively �" the following spring.

There’s not a lot of time now for reflection, Bradley said, although he had little trouble recalling his spring hit on another walk-on.

Would Bradley have guessed then a pro career was in his future?

“You can never count on it,” Bradley said. “With so many years in front of you, to say you’re going to bank on the NFL is foolhardy. There are so many factors that have to fall right for the NFL to even be an option.

“But you always have dreams.”

Bradley said he realized those dreams could become reality when he saw other Huskers he played with go pro and have success. Guys like Demorrio Williams, Trevor Johnson, Barrett Ruud, Fabian Washington, Josh Bullocks and Daniel Bullocks.

“Those guys were definitely an inspiration in achieving this goal,” Bradley said. “You see it’s a possibility, and it makes you want to work that much harder to reach it.”

The draft process, Bradley said, has been an eye-opening experience.

“You’re getting calls from teams at all hours of the day, you have workouts and interviews,” he said. “It’s a fun process. It’s definitely time-consuming, but it’s definitely something you want to be doing.”

Bradley said he felt like he performed well at both the NFL Combine and at Nebraska’s pro day, where he ran 40-yard dash times of 4.72 and 4.73 seconds, respectively.

Bradley has traveled to have in-person meetings with Baltimore, San Diego and New England officials. NFL.com ranks Bradley as the No. 4 outside linebacker; however, Stewart Mandel of SI.com writes that Bradley is the most overrated linebacker in the draft.

“It’s a lot of pressure,” Bradley said. “It’s different than just football. It’s a whole different ball game. You’ve got to sell yourself and you have to have a realistic view of yourself, which takes a maturity that some guys don’t have.”

Reach Brian Rosenthal at 473-7436 or brosenthal@journalstar.com.

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