The Middle Tennessee football team has plenty of new personnel additions in store for the 2017 season.
One of those faces isn’t new to the college game, though he is relatively new to Murfreesboro.
Redshirt junior Walter Brady transferred to MT in September from Missouri, where he spent two seasons with the Tigers before sitting out the 2016 campaign.
After redshirting in his first year in Columbia, the 6-foot-3, 278-pound defensive end racked up seven sacks to lead all freshmen nationally in the 2015 regular season. For his efforts, he was placed on the Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-American team along with future teammate Richie James.
Those seven sacks would rank as the third most in a single-season at Middle Tennessee and the most by a defensive end since Jamari Lattimore (11.5) in 2010. Brady’s presence is more than welcome in the ‘Boro.
In the year following his breakout redshirt freshman campaign, Brady left Missouri for personal reasons. That’s when Middle Tennessee came calling, and it wasn’t the first time.
A couple of years earlier, when Brady was a senior coming out of Florence High School in Florence, Alabama, he was committed to MT before flipping late to the Tigers. The connection he created then with head coach Rick Stockstill was essential when Brady found himself again looking for a college to play for last fall.
“For Coach Stock to find me and offer me a chance to come here under his mentorship and under his coaching staff and to be able to build myself as a man and athletically, it meant a lot,” Brady said. “It showed the coaching staff believes in me.
“It was a rough transition at first, but I finally got settled in towards the end of last semester. It’s like being home – MTSU and I have a lot of history. The coaches jab at me every now and then about not coming here in the first place. But it’s a blessing to be here now.”
Having Brady join the Blue Raiders in 2017 comes at the perfect time. Of the six players who started at least one game along the MT defensive line in 2016, five of them graduated. Those seniors registered 11 combined sacks a season ago.
Brady is hoping to step in and replace some of what was lost. His style of play mixed with the schemes new defensive coordinator Scott Shafer wants to implement have some Blue Raider offensive linemen happy they don’t have to guard him on Saturdays.
“He’s shown ability to power through guys, even in the SEC with all of those big offensive linemen,” sophomore offensive lineman Chandler Brewer said. “He can move really well, he has great hands and great feet, and he controls his body really well. He’ll definitely bring it for us this year on the defensive side.”
Since he wasn’t able to do much on the football field in the fall, Brady got the chance to spend a lot of time both in the film room and with his new teammates off the field.
He said the relationships he’s already built made the transition to campus easier when he later enrolled in September, and at the same time he was able to put a lot of focus on academics.
“I really had to come in and jump in on school because I was a little behind,” Brady said. “Most of the last year has been me working on myself as a man and building more character and relationships with people, and also spiritually. Finding that reconnection with God has been a huge help to me.”
He was also able to use his down time to hit the weight room, and he even found his favorite part about MTSU’s campus.
“I’m definitely rocking with the Chick-fil-A on campus,” Brady said. “At Missouri we didn’t have many restaurants like that on campus. You have to get there at the right time, though.”
Now that Brady has his academics, relationships and transition to campus ironed out, it’s time to start getting into the football mindset.
Shafer said Brady will bring athleticism and a hard-working attitude to the Blue Raiders. He also plays with an aggressive style, which blends perfectly with the way Shafer wants his defense to play.
“He’s a good physical body that can run and hit,” the coach said. “It seems like he has a really nice energy to him. I think all the tools are there, and it’s just a matter of him going to work.”
The road to Middle Tennessee may have been long and winding for Brady, but if he can deliver the type of impact he, his coaches and his teammates think he can, his addition could be a match made in heaven for the 2017 Blue Raiders.