In the 25 years that Leesville Road has been open, many notable athletes have competed in a Pride uniform. However, none may be more renowned than Braxton Berrios, former offensive juggernaut for the varsity football team.
Berrios is now a senior receiver at the University of Miami, with NFL aspirations and laid his groundwork for success at Leesville.
Berrios played for the Pride from 2010-2014, leading the team to multiple conference championships, two undefeated regular seasons, and a semifinal appearance in the state tournament.
Berrios was a highly sought after four-star recruit and held multiple scholarship offers from top tier football schools such as Ohio State, Oregon, and Tennessee. Invitations to Nike’s prestigious “The Opening” combine and the Under Armour All-America Game are among other achievements Berrios earned in high school.
However, these accomplishments and accolades are the product of humble beginnings. When Berrios was in ninth grade, he had a vision and invested in it. Dedication to the weight room and additional training placed a motivated Berrios above most of his peers.
His dream to play for the Miami Hurricanes fueled his drive to be the best. “I used to have only one dream as a kid, and that was to play football at the University of Miami. So the choice was quite simple for me. I set a goal, I believed in it, accomplished it, then followed my heart,” said Berrios, via text.
While Leesville was paramount to Berrios’ development as a player, the lessons learned went far beyond the end zones. “Leesville taught me much more than how to be great on the field. It taught me how to be a good person, because that was always the most important thing. It taught me that the most telling aspect of a person’s character was how you treat people that do nothing for you. It taught me how special and valuable true friends are, and how to always be humble no matter the circumstance,” said Berrios.
Not only did Berrios have outstanding individual skill, he was also a “team first” oriented leader. Berrios combined his elite skills and effective leadership to make those around him better. His teammates came to rely on him when the stakes were at their highest.
“Exceptional players that have good leadership skills make everyone around them better. They set expectations through their own actions and people around them rise up to those expectations so it makes average players good players, and good players great players, and so forth, and that was his impact. He also brought a level of comfort in adverse situations because people knew that he could be counted one. His teammates new that he could be counted on to get us over the hump and get us through a tough game,” said Chad Smothers, head football coach.
With an impressive career at Leesville behind him, Berrios is now a senior at the University of Miami and pleased with the opportunities and experiences he has had there. “Miami is a world different than Raleigh is, but I love it here. I’ve been exposed to a lot of things I never would have been [exposed to] if I didn’t leave for college. I can’t say one bad thing about my experiences here, and I can confidently say I have grown tremendously as a person here,” said Berrios.
With his college football career coming to an end, Berrios plans to graduate Summa Cum Laude with a double major in finance and entrepreneurship in December.
Ultimately, Berrios was the ideal student athlete and teammate, and his accomplishments will continue to resonate at Leesville for years to come.