WR Braxton Berrios | Senior | 5’9 186 Lbs.
Straight out of Raleigh, North Carolina, Berrios was a high 3-star recruit in the Class of 2014 from Leesville Road High, ranking #379 overall, the #51 WR, and #15 in the state of North Carolina. A dynamic option working out of the slot, Berrios had national offers and was invited to the Under Armour All-American game, where he balled out and caught a TD against some of the best competition in the nation.
His dad was a big Canes fan and Berrios grew up with a passion for the U, even rocking a Miami license plate on the front of his car. Miami offered in July and immediately shot to the top of the list. By September, Berrios had narrowed his choices to Miami, Tennessee, Oregon, and South Carolina, and he took official visits to each.
Berrios took in Miami’s win over UF in 2013 for his official visit and built strong relationships with Hurricane coaches Al Golden, James Coley, and Brennan Carroll. Even though he gave each of his finalists a fair shot and saw what each of them had to offer, in the end, there was no topping Miami for Berrios. On October 12, he pledged his allegiance to Golden and the orange and green.
At Miami So Far
Berrios enrolled early for spring ball in his freshman year in 2014, but his first days on campus revealed troubling news after the Canes’ medical staff evaluated him: Berrios had torn his ACL in the UA All-American game in January. In what seemed to be an automatic redshirt season for the young slot receiver, Berrios rehabbed like crazy, waking up most mornings at 5am for treatment and rehab. All the hard work paid off and Berrios was full go for the start of the season in Septemeber, only 8 months after his injury.
But that wasn’t the only hurdle Berrios would have to jump in his freshman year. Miami came into 2014 already deep at receiver and Berrios was looking up at future NFL guys Phillip Dorsett and Stacy Coley, along with Herb Water and Malcolm Lewis, on the depth chart. However, Berrios would develop a rapport with fellow true freshman Brad Kaaya from the get-go, becoming Kaaya’s favorite target on underneath routes and 3rd downs by the end of the season. Berrios started 4 games in his freshman season with 21 catches for 232 yards and 3 TD’s, his future looking bright.
However, the injury bug would rear its ugly head yet again for Berrios early in his sophomore year, this time going down in the opener against Bethune Cookman with a strained left knee. Berrios missed 2 games but when he returned, never seemed to fully find his footing and finished the year with a measly 12 catches for 86 yards, although Berrios would become the Canes’ punt returner by the end of the season.
Berrios split reps in the slot with Malcolm Lewis pretty evenly his junior year, starting 3 games and registering 178 yards on 12 grabs and 2 TD’s, as well as his first career punt return touchdown against FAMU. Also, one of his receiving TD’s came in crucial moment just before halftime of Miami’s bowl win vs. West Virginia.
2017 and Beyond
Lewis is gone, off to the NFL and the Miami Dolphins, and Berrios is now the veteran in the slot for the Canes. Add in the fact the passing game lost Coley and David Njoku to the NFL as well, and Berrios is looking at a heavily expanded role in the offense this season, in addition to likely handling punt return duties again.
“I am excited. Obviously, that is what you come to Miami for,” Berrios said about shouldering a larger load on offense. “That is what you play football for, especially as a wide receiver. It will be an exciting year, and not just for myself but for this team as a whole.”
For the first time in 3 years, Berrios will be catching passes from a QB that is not Kaaya. That QB will be Malik Rosier, but his starting spot is far from secure. Even so, cycling through multiple QB’s throughout the season is not ideal for the offense as a whole or the WR unit.
“I want somebody to step up and be the leader and be our guy,” Berrios said. “I hope we don’t have to go through two, you know, three quarterbacks throughout the season. I want one guy, and I want him to be our ride-or-die.”
Berrios, along with the other receivers, will have to develop the proper rapport with Rosier to really take the passing game to the next level. In Rosier’s only start of his career, 2015 vs. Duke, Berrios caught 3 balls from him for 18 yards; not much, but it’s a start. As an inexperienced QB, Rosier will need a reliable safety valve, and Berrios profiles nicely to do the job.
As a player, Berrios is a sure-handed target that is more known for bursts of acceleration in small areas than straight-line cheetah speed. He can be a terror on underneath routes due to sudden footwork that shakes press defenders out of his release. Think former UNC receiver Ryan Switzer. On special teams, the coaches love Berrios returning punts. He’s crafty and he doesn’t make mistakes. That is something that is invaluable on a unit where one miscue can change the complexion of the game in an instant.
Even though Berrios hasn’t put up crazy stats, he is still looked up to as a team leader and that role becomes even more crucial as a senior with increased responsibilities. For his part, Berrios seems up to the task so far; he recorded 7 catches for 92 yards and 6 catches for 107 yards in Miami’s two fall scrimmage’s, leading the Canes in both categories each time. Those are the types of performances the coaches expect from Berrios and he will have to deliver on that promise for Miami to reach its goal of an ACC Championship. There’s no reason he can’t surpass his junior season numbers and 50+ catches for 600+ yards are certainly within reach in 2017.