E.A. Sports Today

People’s choice

JCA’s indispensable Brackett the fans’ choice for Calhoun County Player of the Year



By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Tommy Miller can’t imagine what his Jacksonville Christian football season might have looked like this year – actually, these last four years – without Daylon Brackett in the lineup.

Well, he can imagine it, but the picture wouldn’t be as rosy.

Brackett has been the do-it-all player for the Thunder from the moment he stepped in at quarterback at the end of the first quarter of the last game of his freshman year.

The numbers he has produced for the smallest football-playing school in the state boggle the mind. He has been prolific enough to join rank among the leaders on the state’s career yardage lists and while he might get overlooked in a lot of places for postseason awards, the fans in Calhoun County certainly have noticed.

They voted him the 2014 Calhoun County Player of the Year in a month-long fan poll on East Alabama Sports Today.

Brackett collected 16,518 of the more than 40,000 votes cast. Laser-sharp Piedmont quarterback Tyler Lusk finished second with 10,216 votes, followed by Donoho’s versatile Justin Foster (7,694) and Anniston receiver Tae Miller (2,226). Donoho lineman Axis Heathcock (1,382) was the only other player among the 49 receiving votes to get more than 500.

“It’s good to get recognized a little bit as a small school,” Brackett said. “All the effort I put into it, to get some recognition for that, it really means a lot, especially going against all the other kids … To see that people really voted for me and really wanted to recognize me as the player of East Alabama, that really does mean a lot to me.”

And he has meant a lot to the Thunder.

This season he accounted for 42 touchdowns and more than 3,000 yards of total offense virtually split down the middle between rushing and passing.

He finished with 1,532 rushing yards on 158 carries and threw for 1,589 yards on 99-of-185 passing. He’s only the second player in AHSAA records with back-to-back years of 3,000 yards of total offense. Throw in his return yardage – he did that, too – and he finished with 3,326 all-purpose yards for the year.

And speaking of those lists, that 3,326 is 12th on the single-season ledger, his 9,790 career yards is eighth all-time (just behind Florida State’s Jameis Winston) and the 104 touchdowns for which he is responsible is seventh (just ahead of Winston). Alexandria’s Mac Campbell holds the county touchdown accountability record with 153.

“I can imagine (life without Brackett), but that would be all — imagine,” Miller said. “What I can imagine is I don’t know if we could have won without Daylon. It would have been extremely hard. He was so valuable. We had such young people in some important places. He gave us a lot of stability — not just athleticism, but stability

“One thing we haven’t given credit on is the fact he did play both ways and he was the placekicker and the punter. He was in every phase of the game.”

As his numbers suggest, Brackett wasn’t a one-dimensional threat. He has drawn comparisons to Matt Jones and Colin Kaepernick and if you hold your eyes right he looks a little like Andrew Luck.

His best rushing game of the season was a 259-yard four-touchdown effort against Waterloo and his best passing game was 16 of 26 for 329 yards and four scores against Spring Garden. His personal play of the year clearly was the scrambling 91-yard touchdown run on a third-and-long late in the Homecoming/Senior Night game against Gaylesville; it was the 100th TD of his career and propelled the Thunder to its second playoff appearance in school history.

“It came along where I could really move with my feet and make some plays happen, and my arm wasn’t that strong” Brackett said explaining his development. “But I knew if I wanted to play at the next level that definitely was something I needed to do.

“I really worked on my arm strength and it really improved from my junior year to this year. I remember coach giving me some atta-boys for throwing good balls and I didn’t hear too many of those before. But I just went out there for my team. I knew what I had to do every week and just doing that for my team is really what the main focus was every week.”

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