SMITHFIELD, R.I. – If you watched a Bryant University football game this past fall, it was hard not to notice freshman Andre Brackett (East Windsor, N.Y.). Whether it was because of his outstanding ability on special teams or his high socks, Brackett caught your attention.
The Loomis Chaffee grad also caught the attention of the Northeast Conference coaching staffs, as he was named the NEC Defensive Rookie of the Year following the season. It was just the second time in program history a Bulldog has won that award.
"Winning the NEC Defensive Rookie of the Year was a monumental moment for my family and I," Brackett said. "I have always been overlooked due to my lack of size and these honors have a huge impact on why I am confident in my ability."
Confidence and ability were two things that Brackett had in spades during his prep career, just at a different position. He was a standout running back at East Catholic High in Connecticut before starring at Loomis Chaffee during a post-graduate year. In his final season at East Catholic, Brackett rushed for 1,240 yards and 23 touchdowns. He then set school single-season records for all-purpose yards, rushing yards (1,501) and touchdowns (16) at Loomis Chaffee.
Those successes make what Brackett did this year even more impressive. Brackett made the position change in the offseason and worked with former Detroit Lion Amari Spievey to better learn the craft. He quickly picked it up and by season's end, he was not only one of Bryant's best special teams players, but earned considerable time as a defensive back.
"I am most proud of how I was able to transition to cornerback from running back and found success this fall," Brackett said. "This is a credit to coach [Darryl] Jackson on how fast he was able to coach me up and my football mentor Amari Spievey."
Brackett didn't play in Bryant's season-opener against Merrimack but appeared in every game after that. He made an immediate impact on Bryant's special teams unit, making tackle after tackle on kick and punt returns. Brackett would finish the year with a team-high nine special teams tackles.
And while he continued to thrive on returns, Brackett gained more and more playing time in Bryant's defensive backfield. By week nine, he was a regular.
That's when Bulldog fans got to see another part of Brackett's evolution. Sporting high soccer-style black socks with white stripes, Brackett shined over the final four weeks of the season. He posted 15 tackles in the final four games, posting interceptions in each of the final two games of the season.
It was a sign of more good things to come.
"I am hoping to build off the award and become one of the best defensive backs I can possibly be and do what I can to help us achieve our team goal of winning the NEC," Brackett said. "I am going to continue to grind, stay humble and persevere through adversity when it comes my way."