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O.C.'s Blake Brady, a former walk-on, wins scholarship at Arizona

Defensive back Blake Brady didn't begin playing football until his freshman year at Anaheim Servite High School. As a college sophomore, he's improved enough to earn a full ride. A former coach attributes his steady progress to hard work and character.

June 28, 2012|Eric Sondheimer
  • Blake Brady
Blake Brady

The college football season is still two months away, but the story of former Anaheim Servite defensive back Blake Brady is too good to hold back.

On June 13, Brady went into the office of Arizona Coach Rich Rodriguez and was told he had been placed on full scholarship.

One of the first things Brady did was call his mother, Suzanne, a single parent.

"I was so excited to be able to tell my mom she did not have to pay for school," he said.

He also sent a text to his high school coach, Troy Thomas.

"He's come light years from where he was as a freshman, and I believe it's because of his hard work and character," Thomas said.

How Brady went from walk-on to scholarship player in the Pac-12 is going to be something Servite players will hear about from Thomas for years to come.

Brady began his football career as a 5-foot-7, 135-pound freshman linebacker. He had never played football before, so his inexperience and the challenge of facing some very good players almost caused him to quit.

"Freshman year was rough," he said. "It was new and I wasn't looking good. But I stuck it out."

He spent his sophomore and junior years on junior varsity. Finally, as a senior, he got to play varsity football. By the Pac-5 Division playoffs, he was entrenched as a starting safety for the Friars.

Thomas remembers that it was Brady's defensive check during a two-point conversion attempt by Mission Viejo in the 2009 semifinals that foiled the Diablos and enabled Servite to win, 19-18, on the way to a Pac-5 Division championship.

"He got better every year," Thomas said.

Brady never received a single recruiting letter from any school. Helped by the fact that his Servite teammate, Kirifi Taula, was headed to Arizona on a scholarship, Brady was given the chance to walk on. He spent his freshman year redshirting on the scout team.

"The goal is prove to them you can play," Brady said. "You work out and get stronger. It's tough. Some days are not good."

Last season, he saw action on special teams, sacrificing his body on kickoffs and blocking on punt returns.

During breaks from Arizona, he'd return to Servite and ask Thomas if he could work out with the team in the weight room.

He's now 5-11, 190 pounds, majoring in business and preparing to be a scholarship athlete for the 2012 season.

Asked about the lesson learned from his football journey, Brady said, "Hard work pays off, and if you really feel you deserve to play at a certain level, then just don't stop."

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