Editor’s note: Nebraska football commit Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Hiles, the Huskers’ top-ranked 2018 recruit who plays at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., is contributing a weekly first-person story to Land of 10. Here is the eighth installment, as told to beat writer Erin Sorensen.
After a big weekend in Lincoln, Neb., I got back to IMG late Sunday night around 12:30 a.m. My teammates and I probably didn’t go to bed until about 2 a.m., though.
The visit was great, and I had a great time. I was able to have my mom and my brother with me as my two official guests, but they weren’t the only two family members that came. While my one sister couldn’t come because she is pregnant, my other sister actually brought my nephew so I got to see him. He lives in Atlanta, but they were in Kansas City visiting friends so they drove up. My other brother also flew himself out for the game, so we all got to be together. It was really cool.
And my family also had a great time. They told me Nebraska is great, and they also got to see my cousin Tyjon Lindsey. My mom hadn’t seen him play since his junior year of high school so that was really exciting.
While Tyjon didn’t get his touchdown while we were there, we did get to see his big block that allowed Stanley Morgan Jr. to score on an 80-yard touchdown pass play. In fact, I had just walked down when I saw it happen on the big screen. I just cringed my teeth like, “Come on, Tyjon. Make the block.” I saw it coming and then it happened. I was like, “Yep, that’s him.” Everyone was going crazy but I knew he could do it.
Knowing Tyjon, that moment showed his traits as a player. Tyjon values blocking. When he doesn’t get the ball, Tyjon values his teammate getting the ball just as much. Blocking has always been a characteristic trait of his, because he’s never selfish.
As for the rest of the game, I know losses are tough. But it was still so good to see my recruiting class because we didn’t treat it like we wouldn’t see each other again before we get on campus. It was more us linking up again. It was almost like a family reunion.
When it comes to the game itself, the outcome just shows how Nebraska — its coaches and its players — treat a loss. It shows your true character. Everyone is judged on how they get back up because everyone is going to fall, so it’s about how you get back up at the end of the day. I’m excited to see what happens this week, which happens to be against Ohio State. Wisconsin was just a little hiccup, but Nebraska will be all right.
Plus, I was able to see myself out there making the big plays. That’s why you go on visits, after all. You want to be able to visualize yourself in these situations. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said the same thing when I was there. It’s important to visualize yourself making the big plays in games, because that’s what it’s all about. I approach every visit I take that way. I try to see myself in that stadium making big time plays.
Being my fifth or sixth visit to Nebraska, the Huskers have really become a part of me now. This is who I am. It’s like I’ve already been on the roster in a way. It’s a big family. That’s just what it is.
We even took photos on Saturday and during the process of taking those pictures and being around my brothers, my future classmates and my current IMG teammates — it hadn’t hit me just yet. It was when I was on the plane back home while I was looking at the photos that I really realized just how far I’ve come. To be in this position and to put on the helmet and jersey and to have my brothers right next to me, it was crazy to think that I’m literally two and a half months from being in college. Who would have thought I’d be in college one day?
It’s kind of weird because last year I went on Tristan Gebbia’s official visit to Nebraska and I remember thinking, “I have a whole year! This will be so long.” Now? It’s literally 60 days away. It’s that close.
As the end of high school gets closer, I think of my “little brother” at IMG, who is junior wide receiver, Cameron Coleman. He’s from St. Louis, and he also has a Nebraska offer. When I look at him, I’m Tristan, Tyjon and Keyshawn Johnson Jr. and he’s now me. This is how the tables turned. I used to look up to them to see the ending of their recruiting processes and now he looks up to me to show him the way.
And when I talk to Darnay Holmes, who is now a freshman defensive back at UCLA, he tells me that he’s going to show me the ropes to be a freshman All-American. I never expected anything from him, but he set the bar so high that I have to go get it. That’s just how I was raised.
I played with him one year at Calabasas (California), and we did everything together. He almost redefined my work ethic. I was always a hard worker, but he really put it to the test and put me to work when I was around him. He wasn’t only one of the best defensive backs in the nation, he also had a 4.1 or 4.2 GPA his whole life. Competing with him on and off the field made me a better player.
Being able to match that a year later is a goal of mine. I feel like I’m living up to my own standards and expectations that he helped set, and I hope he’s proud of me.
I just hope to now do the same for those younger than me. It’s just crazy how close I am to being in college, though.
Miss a week of Bookie’s senior season diary? Catch up here.