It has been nearly eight months since Tyre Bracken helped White Castle High script the perfect ending to a dream season.
By rushing for a Class 1A title-game record 235 yards on 31 carries with two touchdowns, Bracken powered the Bulldogs to a state title. The WCHS seniors went out on top.
As for the 5-foot-8, 187-pound Bracken ? well, he’s still going.
“I learned a lot from the guys who graduated last year,” Bracken said. “They were determined to be state champions and didn’t want to settle for anything less. We have to be just as determined.”
After becoming White Castle’s version of the little engine that could help pace a team to a state title, Bracken is preparing for his senior season with some specific goals.
At the top of the list is making another run at a state title. Instead of being a little engine that could, Bracken wants to be a running back that would attract the attention of recruiters.
“Tyre is a team player first,” White Castle coach Ferrante Dominique said. “He knows were going to rely on him and he’s already a leader.
“When I was thinking about possibly moving on after last season, Tyre was one of the guys who told me it would be OK. He told me this senior class was going to make sure they did what they needed to do. I’m glad to be back, and I’m glad to have Tyre and the other seniors with me.”
Those who have concerns about whether Bracken can step into a lead role shouldn’t, Dominique said. He pointed out when Bracken was a youngster he always “played up” with the area’s older kids, including former WCHS star Ronald Martin, who is now at LSU.
“The reality of it is, Tyre has been stepping up for a long time,” Dominique said. “It just so happens this is the next step for him.”
But what a step it needs to be for the younger brother of former St. John-Plaquemine standout and Michigan player Tim Bracken. A scholarship to a SEC school or a BCS school is another goal for Bracken.
Bracken and Dominique understand colleges are not impressed with Bracken’s 3,107 yards and 39 TDs a year ago that helped White Caste win 11 straight games to close the season.
The fact those totals included an eye-popping 1,307 yards and 14 TDs in five playoff games is not an enticement. Recruiters who look at Bracken see a runner who is small and who plays on the 1A level.
Looking to prove his worth, Bracken has attended camps at LSU, Mississippi State and Southern Mississippi this summer.
“I know there are things I need to show people,” Bracken said. “I think I did my best at the Mississippi State camp. I ran a 4.34 40 (yard dash), which is my best time.
“My speed was one thing I needed to improve. I also need to show people I can catch the ball. I may need to be a slot receiver in college. I know I’m also going to have be a bigger part of the passing game.”
Despite his hard-running credentials, Bracken is also looking to get tougher. Last year, opposing teams keyed on Martin when the season began. As the season evolved, Bracken took on a bigger role. The Bulldogs even shifted from a spread to an old-school I-formation to utilize Bracken’s skill.
This fall Issac O’ Bear takes over at quarterback, after splitting time with Martin a year ago. The Bulldogs also return four of their five offensive linemen.
“I’ve always had a connection with Issac and having the guys back on the line is huge for us and for me,” Bracken said. “I don’t think we expect this year to be like last year. It’ll be different, but we want it to be the best we can be.”
Bracken carries a 2.8 core GPA and considers his older brother and his parents, Leonard and Sandra, as role models.
Bracken may be the one high school running back who won’t mind it when someone says
he ran like a girl. His mother was a star sprinter for the Bulldogs.
While there is no way to predict what will happen this season and beyond, Dominique expects Bracken to be successful.
“He’s one of those guys who will do whatever it takes,” Dominique said.