BLOOMINGTON — Bobby Brady played quarterback during his bantam season with the Bloomington Knockers youth football team.
How was his arm?
“It was mostly scrambling,” he said, smiling. “I never really threw.”
The following year, Brady moved to running back, where he remained throughout his youth football career.
Then it happened.
Shortly after arriving at Central Catholic High School, Brady found his way to wide receiver. It is what you do when your name is Brady.
Brady’s father, Bob, was a Central star who went on to a record-setting career at Villanova University from 1986-89. Dad graduated with the most receiving yards in Wildcats’ history (2,901) and currently ranks second.
Bobby Brady’s uncle, Ed, was a star receiver at Illinois Wesleyan from 1981-84 and still holds records for receptions in a game (15) and season (80).
Is there pressure with that?
“Not at all,” said Bobby Brady, a senior who ranks fifth in the Pantagraph area with 343 receiving yards. “He (his father) has always said, ‘Do whatever you want. Write your own path.’ But it’s definitely influenced me to want to play at the next level and follow him to Villanova.”
That’s another Brady tradition.
Bob Brady met his wife, Lynda, at Villanova. Bobby could become the fourth of their six children to go to school there. With two younger siblings, the opportunity exists for a clean sweep.
“I received a half-scholarship (offer) from them a couple of weeks ago,” Bobby Brady said. “I’m keeping my options open, but most likely that’s where I’ll go.”
Currently, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Brady goes mostly where defenders are not.
His 343 yards have come on 19 catches with five touchdowns. He is averaging 18.1 yards per catch while also starting in the defensive secondary and returning punts and kickoffs.
“There are few plays when Bobby’s not open,” Central quarterback Max Moews said. “He’s always finding ways to get open. He’s really good at reading defenses and making himself free.”
Part of that can be attributed to Brady’s athleticism. Saints coach Mike Moews, Max’s father, said Brady “is very quick and gets up to speed real quick.”
While the Central coach said that creates “separation” from defenders, there is more to it.
Brady spends considerable time watching film of opponents, some of it with his father.
“He helps me kind of pick out and depict what they’re doing on the field,” Brady said. “He’s always offering advice like that. Reading the corner (cornerback) and stuff like that is big … watching their coverage and how they shift up and back.”
Brady caught 26 passes for 536 yards and six touchdowns a year ago, helping the Saints to the Corn Belt Conference championship and the Class 3A quarterfinals.
He made his varsity debut midway through his sophomore year and immediately showed promise with an interception and a lengthy punt return. However, he suffered a broken collarbone on the return.
“He was definitely going to be able to make an impact that year and unfortunately it was cut short,” Mike Moews said. “Last year we expected a lot out of him and especially this year.
“He pushes himself harder than anybody and that’s kind of what you always ask out of a captain or a leader … that they be your hardest workers. He’s really been focused and doing that.”
Brady and the Saints (4-1, 3-0 in the Corn Belt) have won four straight since a 28-6 loss to defending 2A state champion Tri-Valley. They enter Friday’s 7 p.m. home game against IVC (2-3, 2-2) tied with Mahomet-Seymour top the Corn Belt.
Brady will be joined in the defensive backfield by senior Sam Heaton, who has missed the past two games with a leg injury. Mike Moews called Heaton “the quarterback of our defense” who “really helps us get aligned.”
As for Brady, he looks to keep doing what a Brady does. The past two years, the Saints’ receiving corps also included his first cousin, Jack Brady, Ed’s son.
“That was a blast,” Brady said. “Uncle Eddy and my dad were always throwing tips our way. It’s been a great experience overall for everybody.”