February 13, 2015

Brandt to greater heights

Kevin McCarthy

Curran Brandt is just a high school senior yet wise enough to know both what he needed and wanted. When the Aragon High football player found his answer 6,000 feet up in the Rocky Mountains and that it is a member of the Mountain West Conference, there were no second thoughts.

photo of Curan Brandt

Brandt has signed to attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and his reasons for doing differ at least from the stereotype of today's youth.

“I liked the structure and order that the Academy offers,” he explained. “Your day is scheduled and your agenda planned. They want you to be successful by forming good habits which will carry on into later life.”

And no, he isn't determined to become a pilot or be part of a flight crew as many assume. “Flying isn't anything I thought about. I'll be a computer science major.”

One element that remains for all the service academies is a five-year commitment after graduation and that's fine with Brandt

. A large number of the athletics signees, football and basketball specifically, begin by enrolling in the Air Force Prep Academy which is akin to redshirting but Brandt is moving straight on to the football squad. On June 25, he begins basic training as a cadet and then will move directly into football summer training camp.

By the way, the Falcons finished last season with a 10-3 record, including a victory over Boise State and concluded the season in late December by beating Western Michigan in a bowl game.

Currently checking in at 6-foot-1, 207, Brandt is working to reach his goal of 220 pounds before he leaves in June. “As a freshman in high school, I played safety and running back [up in Washington] but then I got bigger.” It was outside linebacker when he enrolled at Aragon as a junior. That is except for lining up as a running back a few times, which accounted for one of his most memorable moments.

“In the first game of my senior year, we played Jefferson and our running back was hurt. In the fourth quarter, I had a 90-yard touchdown run. I was telling myself just get past these two kids (he did) and don't get caught (he didn't). I've never done anything like that before.”

With Air Force, he will play as a hybrid linebacker/safety, covering the tight end on the line but also dropping into coverage. It's called the spur position in Falcon football lingo.

Air Force first made contact after his junior season and Brandt was also looking at a number of Ivy League schools. “I reached out to them [Air Force] in late December and they offered in January.”

Noting the differences in his play from his freshman year to the present, Brandt explained, “I was focused as a freshman and sophomore but a little hesitant. I was a 14-year-old playing varsity with 18-year-olds and thinking about how to tackle bigger guys.” He still recalls this from his second game: “I was on the kickoff team and I made the tackle on the very first play. I surprised myself.”

As an upperclassman, “My instincts kicked in and I was flying around and making plays. You have to be a playmaker, kind of like overly confident.”

So why football when an array of sports were available to take up?

“Mentally and physically it's really challenging and intense,” Brandt said. “You run as fast as possible to hit and destroy them [opponents]. Every play is like a battle. Nobody wants to go to a two and a half hour practice after a long school day. It's a character builder.”

His father played basketball and football in high school, favoring the former. “I get my explosiveness from my Dad. He was getting looked at by colleges but blew out his knee and didn't play his senior year.”

Brandt did and now it's paid off with a college scholarship.