Since he was a little kid, it’s been a dream of Venice High football player Brandon Gregory to play Division-I college football one day.
With an offer to Stetson already in hand, he’s well on his way to achieving that dream, but the Indians senior running back is deserving of much more.
Nothing against the Hatters — 7-1 and second overall in the Pioneer League — but several colleges are missing out on their chance at a dynamic playmaker in Gregory.
“All I wanted was an offer,” said Gregory, who didn’t receive his first one until midway through this season.
“I was waiting on one. And since it was a D-I offer, it really meant a lot to me.
“But I’m definitely hoping to get more offers. I just went up to USF on Saturday to watch the game and meet the coaches. So, hopefully everything works out and I can reach my goals.”
A big factor in Gregory’s slipping under the radar of universities was a hand injury that caused him to miss most of his junior season. A pivotal time in the recruitment of high school athletes, a lost junior season set Gregory back.
However, now with a healthy — and impressive — senior season under his belt, it’s time for colleges to wake up.
To say that Gregory has been important to the Indians this season would be quite the understatement.
After tweaking his back in the preseason classic kickoff game against Plant, Gregory had to sit out a week of practice and miss Venice’s season-opening game against Vero Beach.
Venice lost that game, 42-20, and Gregory was worried.
But the senior returned to the Indians for Week 2 in a big way, scoring a pair of touchdowns as the Indians bounced back with a 19-2 win over Riverview, and the Indians haven’t stopped winning since.
“Oh, it feels great,” he said on finally being healthy this year. “I mean, missing most of the season last year and then not being healthy for the first week of this season against Vero, I was praying like, ‘Please don’t miss any more games.’
“Because I know how it’s like to sit out, and it’s terrible. Being able to be healthy for this season and having a lot of confidence going into the playoffs truly feels great.”
As the weeks went on, Gregory only got better.
He’s had five games of over 100 rushing yards, scored 24 total touchdowns and put up 1,055 yards of total offense — all in just nine games, in several of which he sat out the second half.
Along with his eye- popping stats, Gregory has also come up with big plays — and games — when needed.
Trailing Braden River late in the fourth quarter, it was none other than Gregory who broke out the game-winning play — a 52-yard rushing touchdown.
Against Charlotte, the second seed in the 6A Region-3 playoffs, Gregory pounded the Tarpons into submission with a five-touchdown effort. Then, weeks later, Gregory broke out another five-touchdown night to win the district championship against Palmetto.
It’s no question that Gregory has played more than his role in getting Venice to the top seed in 7A Region-3.
But the real question is, when will schools start to notice?
“He’s been huge,” Venice coach John Peacock said of Gregory. “He’s a reliable, tough runner and someone who we can count on.
“I obviously think he deserves more offers, but I don’t make those decisions. He’s a great kid. I think he’ll get his opportunity.”