• John Macon Gillespie

Braziel Ready To Bring It Against Top Competition At Fortius

This Saturday the Fortius Project will make it’s way deep into South Mississippi for a second straight year. Mississippi Gulf Coast community college, which is home to some of the state’s most breathtaking facilities, will be the host site and many of the coast’s top players will be in attendance.

In it’s second year, with six camps in the rearview, the Fortius Project camp series is proud to have hosted some of the best athletes in the Magnolia state. Expect more top athletes to be on hand Saturday.

Gulfport defensive lineman Jeremiah Braziel is one them.

“It’s not just a regular camp,” Braziel told SES Mississippi. “Fortius is filled with competition and I love competition. It’s a camp filled with exposure and ways for athletes to get that exposure to the camp world. It can help us get to the next level.”

Braziel’s Twitter handle is @TonkaTruck__. That certainly could provide some sort of preview for his performance on Saturday. Interestingly enough, though, he’s expecting a different area to stand out.

“I believe my quickness will shine,” He noted. “Also, my aggressiveness and my knack for knowing when to do things and when not to. My feet are always quick, while taking the right steps.”

In 2016 Braziel tallied 61 tackles, seven quarterback hurries and two sacks. This offseason his mind and effort are fixated on improving a few key areas.

“Im working to be more explosive off the ball. And getting lower and getting my hips more involved to have better control when I’m attacking,” Braziel explained.

“At Fortius I’ll be looking to improve my hands and my hand placement. That includes using them to get defenders off me, locking them out and getting a better pass rush.”

For Braziel Fortius will provide an extended platform from his junior campaign. After severely spraining his MCL as a sophomore, he was determined to finally show what he could do last season. Saturday will provide him yet another stage to show his skills.

“I didn’t get to shine like I wanted to. So I worked hard during the offseason and the summer. I came back and accomplished some things I couldn’t as a sophomore,” He said. “Last year I was glad to be injury free and be able to show my dominance and get my name out there.”

“I feel I am one of the best in the state and I will show why at camps and in the upcoming season.”

Last season didn’t go exactly how Braziel and his teammates expected. Gulfport finished with a 6-6 mark following a first round playoff loss to Brandon. He noted the running game of Picayune, as well as the playmaking ability of George County’s LaRaymond Spivery, were two of the most difficult challenges the Admirals faced in 2016.

Braziel remembers his football career starting at just four years old. He immediately felt a strong connection to the game.

“I was instantly good at it and it made my family happy to see me play.,” He stated. “Later on in life it became my outlet to being myself.”

“Football has taught me that quitting is never an option. You have to be able to face adversity and show strength and courage. Even when the odds are against you must never take your eyes off the task at hand. Also that you have to be dependable.”

Two players that Braziel likes to study are JJ Watt and Aaron Donald. In fact, he’s even heard the comparisons to the Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle. He feels that both of those guys possess the qualities that any successful defensive lineman needs to have.

“You have to have quick hands and feel. You have to be able to flip your hips and be able to get off blocks,” He said.

“Aaron Donald is only six feet tall, but he plays like he’s 6’7.”

As the Fortius Project comes to the Coast this weekend, it marks a great opportunity for football in South Mississippi to make a statement. Braziel feels that the talent pool in the area has a chance to make a strong statement, but there has to be a desire to do so.

“Coast football is filled with great players and great coaches,” He said. “But it doesn’t get more respect because you don’t hear about any teams winning as much as you do teams from the North. And most of your big time players come from the North.”

“I feel it’s mainly because certain athletes don’t take it serious enough, and they don’t put in as much work as they should.”

There will plenty of work going down on Saturday at MGCCC. Braziel is excited to take part.

**Photo courtesy of Mark Magee

#JohnLukeMcCord #Gulfport

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