Marvin Bracy says he never dreamed of becoming a professional sprinter. Football was always his first love.
In his first interview since signing a professional track contract with adidas Wednesday, however, Bracy told the Sentinel on Saturday that he came to a crossroads while juggling two sports and battling injuries his first year at Florida State.
“Midway through [freshman year] it got to the point where I had to make a choice,” Bracy said.
Even as he stood on the sidelines at the FSU Garnet and Gold spring game April 13, sporting his Seminoles No. 10 jersey for the final time, he knew his destination.
“It’s always going to be hard. Football’s my sport. I was raised on playing football … been playing since I was six,” he said. “I didn’t start running track until I was a sophomore in high school.”
Speculation about his future at FSU and looming pro track career began circulating online in late April. That wasn’t the only speculation. He heard the rumors.
Some suggested he had dropped out of FSU, or was hanging with the wrong crowd or was even getting into drugs. Bracy, who completed his freshman year two weeks ago, told the Sentinel none of it was true.
“People are always going to have their speculations about the way things go … I just didn’t let it bother me,” Bracy said. “It was actually kind of funny to me, all of the things that people can drum up based on a decision that I’m making.”
He said he had a great first year at FSU, but it was never easy. He redshirted in football and it seemed things would go a bit more smoothly with his focus on track. It wasn’t that simple. Football coaches wanted him at practice, track coaches wanted him at practice, and in the meantime, a nagging hamstring injury impeded his progress.
The Orlando Boone product struggled with confusion sometimes, frustration at others and even to a point, a bit of depression. What seemed like a glorified world of sports and academics for a former high school All-American, wasn’t exactly what he figured it would be.
“I pulled my hamstring the first day of [football] camp [in August,] and I was practicing after two weeks but never got back to 100 [percent],” Bracy said. “Then after the bowl game, I got maybe a week or two break and I was back on the track. I made it through indoor and had a successful season, but then I got back out there and got hurt all over again.”
He aggravated his hamstring injury at the Florida Relays, which was in the middle of spring football. That’s when he could no longer ignore his difficulty juggling two sports. He came to FSU thinking his football and track seasons were separate, but missing spring football was not helping his status on the team.
“Being out there in track when it’s track season and being out there in football when it’s football season ... that’s what I thought my scholarship covered. I wasn’t told when spring football started that I wasn’t with track until spring was over,” Bracy said of the expectations of FSU football coaches. “If I was told that, that would have made a difference in my recruitment process.”
Regardless, he was still injured and it wasn’t getting better.
“I didn’t know if I was going to have the time to get healthy because it’s so demanding and you don’t get much break between those two sports,” he said. “I just made up my mind that [going pro] was going to be my only chance to get healthy.”
He got advice. He talked to his mom, and his personal coach and trainer Ricky Argro.
“One day I’d be like, I gotta get out of here, and then the next day I’d be like, man I’m going to stay. I just kept going back and forth.”
There’s no going back now. He’s signed and he’ll be training at the National Training Center and living in Clermont, working with coach Lance Brauman, the same coach who trains U.S. sprinter Tyson Gay.
A healthy Bracy, who's best time is a wind-aided 10.05 seconds in the 100 meters and a 10.2 wind-legal, means he’ll be back on the track for the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, June 20-23, and possibly the World Championships in Moscow, Aug. 8-10. If he is not healthy, his target for returning becomes a late summer/early fall slate on the European circuit.
But the main goal is Brazil 2016.
“I’ve made up my mind and I know what I’m focused on now,” Bracy said. “2016 will be a definite possibility in Brazil .. and many more Olympics to come.”
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun