C.D. Hylton RB Juanya Braxton (Photo: Joe Barnes/recruit757)
Juanya Braxton nailed down an MVP award with his strong performance at the Clash of the Titans
by Jim McGrath, recruitNoVA
The first thing one notices is the energy. Juanya Braxton has barrels to burn, keeping his compact physique on the move. If it’s not the energy, one can’t help but notice the smile. Braxton can light up a room with his 100-watt grin, which is outshined only by the Hylton back’s self-confidence.
“You’re ready to write about me?,” asks the Bulldog to a reporter, midway through Sunday’s “Clash of the Titans” camp. While the question sounded overly confident, it became evident by day’s end that the answer would be yes, as Braxton was announced as the Northern Virginia regional running back MVP of the Clash.
The junior’s self-confidence will come in handy, especially as Hylton coach Tony Lilly and his staff try to reconfigure their team after the loss of several key seniors, including All-American running back Ricky Slade. Addressing the situation on Sunday, defensive coordinator John Harris, asked about the 2018 forecast for the Bulldogs, quipped, “well, first we have to make up 2,000 yards.”
Braxton acts ready for the responsibility. “I can’t wait to accept the challenge,” said the 5-8, 170-pound runner over the phone on Tuesday. “I’m training every day, and sometimes I’ll train, go to school, train, go to work, come back and work out some more.”
The rusher’s personality and work ethic are most evident in the weight room, where Hylton’s 6 AM lifting sessions are a crucial component of the strength program. “His energy builds the team up,” says quarterback Keyshawn Copeland, “especially that early in the morning. He’s real hype and loud!”
And self-aware. With Slade gathering almost every running back carry for the Region 6A finalists, it was hard for the younger backs to get experience. In need of advice, Braxton went straight to the source.
“He (Slade) showed me a lot of things, especially with agility and explosiveness,” said Braxton, who also worked on his speed and claims a 4.58 40-yard time. “He taught me how to not only make a move at the right time, but to make sure it’s the RIGHT move,” he added with emphasis on the concept that not every move will work in a given situation. He made the most of their one season together. “When I realized how good he is, I spent as much time with him as possible.”
Now, Braxton, who also plays outside linebacker and cornerback on the defense, hopes to put his new skills to good use. Sunday’s display was just a start. “I want to show the coaches that I can replicate what Ricky did.”
And in August, he’ll get his chance.
– Jim McGrath