Sylve tracking the ball before catching it and lighting up the after burners.
Next Bench Warmer to be a Superstar? Bradley Sylve
By: Larry Burton
Bradley Sylve isn’t accustomed to anything going slowly for him. He’s always been in the fast lane of whatever he’s chosen to do. So when he showed up in Tuscaloosa with blistering speed and shifty moves, he expected to be the next big showcase receiver at Alabama as well as the big kick and punt returner.
However, the pool of taller, and equally talented pass snaggers already on campus thru a monkey wrench in early playing time. With the Crimson Tide boasting the nations best receiving corp in the nation and with a bigger need for speed in the defensive secondary, Sylve agreed to make the switch to cornerback.
That looked like a wise move with starting corner John Fulton was going to miss some time recovering from toe surgery he had this winter. But in an experiment, Saban tried two offensive receivers at corner, Christion and Cyrus Jones, as well as running back Dee Hart.
And why not experiment with them. The receiving and running back corps are loaded with standout stars. The problem for Sylve is that Cyrus Jones is doing a great job there and may actually have moved ahead of Sylve.
So what do you do with Sylve, the man C.J. Mosley said is the fastest man on the team?
You make another Javier Arenas out of him and make him a deadly punt and kickoff returner.
How fast is Sylve? He’s been timed in the low 4.3’s in the forty and in 2011 he was second to South Carolina WR Damiere Byrd in the 2011 High School Indoor National Championship in the 60m dash. He’s also been recorded in a wind-aided 10.1x in the 100m dash. At the Texas Relays in 2011, he ran the ninth fastest 100 meter dash in the world.
As a punt returner, he’s greased lighting. In the Army High School All Star Game, he took a punt and simply ran away from the best talent in the nation. Nobody on that field could run with him and even a player with a good angle was left in the dust.
People from Louisiana that have seen him run say, “He’s another Trinton Holliday, but with better moves”, referring to LSU’s former punt and kickoff returner, at the time, said to be the fastest man in college football.
Long before Arenas was allowed to start at corner, he was used primarily as a return specialist. Saban almost liked him so much at that position, he was hesitant to let him start and play full time at another position for fear of him being injured.
Could the same thing happen to Sylve?
At least for a while until some of the other talent above him moves out of the way. But if they give Sylve a chance to show what he can do on returns, you’ll witness the next big superstar in Crimson.
Larry is an award winning writer whose work has appeared in almost every college football venue. Now he primarily writes for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Follow Larry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter