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2016 Russell Athletic Bowl

P L AY E R S P O T L I G H T : B R A X T O N B E R R I O S UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI Imagine your alarm going off every morning at 5:00 a.m. to get up and be at treatment by 6:00 a.m., then be at practice from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. and then devoting the rest of your day to schoolwork. That’s the average life of a student athlete and although it may be a challenge, Hurricanes’ wide receiver Braxton Berrios accepts the challenges head on everyday. “Once exams start it’s pretty terrible for the most part to be honest,” Berrios said jokingly, “It’s being in the library between classes, studying here, studying at night. I can’t tell you how many times last spring I stayed in the library until it had closed.” At times the library closes while he’s still studying. “You’ll be working in the back and then security will start flashing their lights to let us know they’re closing, then you realize it’s already 2:00 in the morning.” He said. Berrios, who is in his junior year, has kept a perfect GPA not only at Miami, but also dating back to his days in middle school. “I was one of two kids, it was me and another girl named Meredith and she was ridiculously smart,” he said. “We were the only two that got an award in the eighth grade for having all A’s throughout middle school.” Then once high school came around, all Berrios’ grades were above a 4.0. He would get a B a few times, but since they were in honors classes they would still count as a 4.0 GPA. “When I was in middle school, teachers would say ‘just wait until high school’, then once I got to high school they said ‘just wait until college’, now in college they’re like ‘WOW, you’re still going strong.” he said. He’s had some close calls here at Miami, at times going into a final needing an A to keep his streak alive, but that streak came to an end this past spring semester, or so he thought. “I got graded a B+ in one of my classes last semester, it was a big group project class,” he said, “The teacher emailed me over the summer telling me that they would review grades whenever they could and that they had made a mistake, turns out that my B+ was really an A-” When he originally noticed the B+, he was a bit disappointed, but at the same time relieved. “When I saw it I was like ‘dang’, I wanted perfection and after that I wasn’t perfect anymore,” he said, “But I took it in stride and just said ‘you know what? The pressure is over’ and now I could do whatever now, but luck has it that the streak came back. ” Perfection is what drives Berrios to do what he does in the classroom, as well as in everyday life. “I try to be perfect in everything I do,” he said, “It’s a great thing but it’s also a curse, at times my conscious will tell me ‘you know what? You’re not ready yet. Stay up a little later, stay up until 2 am, get this stuff down pat, before you get up to go to football then the test.’ His parents never pushed him to get these grades and always told him to strive for his best. “I ended up finding out that this was my best and I think your best can be heightened by your work ethic,” Berrios said, “It was never anything anyone ever forced me to do, it just started to happen and I just like being different, 6 4 2 0 1 6 R U S S E L L AT H L E T I C B O W L doing things a different way.” Berrios knows that his academic record is something special and he sees it as a great way to set an example. “At the end of the day, it’s one of the key things that we have control of over here,” he said, “You know being student-athletes, playing football at the U, people do look up to us and think we are bigger than we actually are and it’s one more thing kids can look at and be like ‘ok, you know what, I can do that to.’” His commitment to his grades, as well as football got him noticed by some of the nation’s top academic schools, including several institutions from the Ivy League. “I got letters from some Ivy League schools, but nothing that I pursued,” he said, “I wanted to play college football and this was my dream school. My dad’s from South Florida, so I grew up a Miami fan, so this was perfect.” When it came to deciding where to go to college, regardless of academic standing, the choice was simple. Miami was his dream school to play football for and academics played a bit of a factor. “It definitely was a factor, I wouldn’t say it was a huge factor, because when you’re being recruited for football, there are a lot of factors that you don’t understand or see until you start to visit the campus, you start to meet coaches and you start seeing the facilities,” he said, “It was definitely a huge plus that Miami’s a top-50 institution academically, that it’s a private school and it looks great on a resume.” Berrios is not only a captain on the field, but also off the field as many of his teammates, in particular the freshmen, come to him for tutoring advice and how manages both school and football so well. “I give them all the advice that I can,” he said, “Sometimes they come to me for tutoring, but at times it’s for something that I haven’t seen in a few years or something off my track. So I try to help as much as I can.” Most people wouldn’t expect a football player to be getting the grades that he receives, but Berrios loves the reaction from his fellow classmates when they see his perfect slate in the classroom. “To say my classmates are shocked when they see my grades is an understatement.” He said. He knows that it’s a stigma that comes with being a football player, where new classmates think that because he plays he football, he won’t take his schoolwork seriously. “Not all football players are like that, none of my teammates are like that,” he said, “But that’s the stigma that comes with it and it’s fun to see the look on peoples faces, it’s nice to shed the stereotype.” Berrios could have taken extra classes to graduate this upcoming spring, but the North Carolina native is in no hurry to leave his dream school. He plans on graduating next fall. “I didn’t want to rush it having to take three or four finance classes next spring along with spring football,” he said. “There’s no point to try to put myself through that.” Outside of the possibility of being overwhelmed from taking too many classes in one semester, his main reason is to not have anything distract him from football. On the field, he has one main goal for this season. “To win,” he says. “It’s time, we have to win.”


2016 Russell Athletic Bowl
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