Watch some of Stephan Bracey’s Hudl highlights and you see a prep receiver with the combination of agility and speed to put defenders on skates in the open field.
At East Kentwood High School in Michigan, he played as an outside and slot receiver, along with handling some kickoff and punt-return duties. According to the three-star wide receiver, that is where Wisconsin, the school he flipped to back on Nov. 6, anticipates him playing.
There is also another aspect to Bracey’s game that he feels makes him different.
“I feel like it’s speed and then just my vision like I have with the ball,” Bracey told B5Q last Saturday. “I feel like technique is a good part, too, like how I utilize my moves to the best potential pretty much.”
In describing his mindset when the ball gets to his hands, Bracey says he tries to find an opening and create space so he can use that speed. But when he does juke those opposing defenders, it is quite the feeling.
“It’s just like a relief because I know that he can’t tackle me anymore, so it’s just like on to the next and just trying to find an opening to score pretty much.”
Bracey publicly announced his commitment to Wisconsin earlier in November, but not before having to make a decision. Imagine being a high school prep standout with FBS offers, finally deciding where to play college football and publicly announcing your decision. Then, a school you previously visited and wanted an offer from comes through with said opportunity just after you broadcast your intentions via social media.
That is what happened with Bracey, a Grand Rapids, Mich., native, who verbally committed to Western Michigan in early October.
How soon after this declaration did the Badgers come calling? Real soon.
“It came the day after I committed [to Western Michigan], actually,” said Bracey, who plans to take his official visit to Madison on the weekend of Dec. 7.
Wisconsin inside linebackers coach Bob Bostad delivered the offer. “Surprised” and “grateful” for the opportunity, Bracey said a 3.5-week span ultimately led to him flipping to Wisconsin.
Conversations with the coaches that went deeper than them talking to him just as a player, along with the chance to play in the Big Ten, were factors in that decision.
“It was pretty much just when I was talking with the coaches, just how they felt about me not as just a player but as a person too, like my character, and how that stands out to them and my family,” Bracey said. “Just how I fit into their program and playing at a higher level of competition because I believe I can play in the Big Ten. A lot more exposure and stuff like that, stuff that’ll make me better and more competitive and play at a higher level.”
After deciding to switch to Wisconsin, Bracey told Western Michigan the news.
“I just told them that I loved the program and stuff,” Bracey said, “but I just felt like I was a better fit at Wisconsin and just had a greater amount of opportunity to fully maximize my potential at Wisconsin.
“They were OK with it. They understood. They just respected my decision pretty much, because at the end of the day, it’s my life.”
Even after that conversation, a Western Michigan assistant, Lou Esposito came out to see Bracey the next day. Bracey said the coach told him to do what he had to do.
Wisconsin first made contact with Bracey after the first game of his senior year, when the Badgers’ recruiters were out to see his five-star teammate and fellow UW commit, Logan Brown. Bracey made the decision to join Brown in Madison, but didn’t necessarily tell him before his public announcement.
“He found out through Twitter, so I didn’t even tell him that I was going to flip, so he was just super excited,” Bracey said. “He was happy because I already knew he wanted me to go there with him and at first, he just respected my decision with committing to Western [Michigan] because I didn’t have an offer at the time. He was just excited just to play with me.”
Bracey called Brown “a great leader,” someone he can come to for advice both on and off the field. That came in handy when programs came around.
“I reached out to him during the early beginning of when I started getting recruited,” Bracey said. “He just talked to me about some things like how recruiting would work. He didn’t really sway me any way. He just gave me advice like how to see how coaches would react when they first meet you in person and stuff.”