BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy isn’t your typical high school football powerhouse. Though it was founded relatively recently in 1969, it has already collected ten state championships in the state of Tennessee. Though it has a small student body, it has produced NFL standouts like King Dunlap and Scott Wells as well as NFL hopefuls like 247Composite five-star Jalen Ramsey (Florida State) and four-star Graham Shuler (Stanford).
When Brentwood Academy’s coaching job came open a year ago, the search attracted candidates from across the country. Cody White earned the head coaching position after being attracted to the faith-based institution all the way from Denison, Texas.
“First off, just being around the kids a little bit when I was interviewing, knowing some of the types of kids that came here and just real honestly, I wanted my kids to go to this school,” White said of the attraction to BA. “I really fell in love with the faculty and the staff and what it stands for so it really was a pretty easy decision.”
While the success and the talent that Brentwood Academy as produced is unique, even more rare is the circumstances surrounding that production. With a high school population of just over 400 students, and a male student body of just over 200 students, the Eagles annually trot out close to 100 football players on Friday nights. Almost half the male population at Brentwood Academy is committed to 6:30 AM workouts in June and hot, two-a-day practices in August.
“It starts with our junior high and middle school,” White said of the high participation rate. “In middle school the kids don’t have a choice. They play something every season so all of our kids are doing everything. I think it allows kids to branch out and with the way the world’s working today and everything moving towards specialization, I find it pretty refreshing that we have to have them play multiple things. We’ve been really good in baseball, track, basketball and football and it’s really a lot of the same kids doing it.”
In each of the past two years, Brentwood Academy has produced a Top247 prospect with Graham Shuler earning the nod in the class of 2012 and Jalen Ramsey carrying the 2013 torch. In the class of 2014, four-star Derek Barnett – already a Mr. Football winner – has taken his spot in the prestigious list and class of 2015 wide receiver C.J. Sanders has already been named to the Top247 for his year as well.
Even in the class of 2016 at Brentwood Academy, prospects are emerging as candidates to carry on the legacy.
Head coach Cody White talked to us about what separates his top two prospects.
White on Barnett:
“Obviously he’s physically gifted. God’s given him some pretty good blessings. His mom has sacrificed a lot to get him in a place like this. A lot of people don’t realize it but all of our kids pay. It’s not easy for some of our families so they’re really invested in our program.
“The thing about Derek is he’s bought into what we’re about. It took him a while. A guy like him is able to get by just by being more talented than the other kids and therefore fundamentals suffer. I think he came to the realization that to be the best he can be, he’s going to have to be coachable and he’s really come a long way. He’s become a leader. He’s quiet. All the attention he’s gotten hasn’t gotten to his head so that’s nice to see.
“I think he can play offense at tight end anywhere because he runs well and has great hands and is tough in the open field and I think defense, he can play anywhere on the defensive line. That’s a huge positive for him that you’re not really wasting a spot there because you’re going to find some place that he can help you.”
White on Sanders:
“He’s probably one of the neatest kids I’ve every coached. He’s very humble, his parents have done a great job, step-dad, dad, mom of making him what he is. He’s humble, immensely talented, extremely good student in the classroom. He’s almost perfect. But the good thing about it is he doesn’t buy into all the hype. He’s changed immensely in the last year strength wise and physically. He’s a lot bigger and a lot faster. He’s matured and he’s gonna be a really special player.”
For more on the upcoming talent at Brentwood Academy, click on the photo gallery link.
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