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November 13, 2012

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Bramble developing, waiting for his turn at Dartmouth

Floyd grad rushed for 228 yards, three TDs in final two JV games

HANOVER, N.H. — Kyle Bramble didn’t get much rest last season as a senior running back for Floyd Central, leading the state in rushing yards per game.

It’s a different story this season for Bramble as a Dartmouth freshman. Instead of getting 30-plus carries a game, Bramble is learning a new system and developing for the future.

That’s fine with the modest Bramble, who is enjoying the journey.

“It’s definitely different and you have to start at the bottom again,” he said. “I just have to work my way back up and that’s something I’m going to try to do.”

At various points this season, Bramble has shown flashes to indicate he’s ready to make that climb sooner rather than later.

Dartmouth’s junior varsity team played an abbreviated three-game schedule this season. Bramble was used as the feature tailback in the final two games, rushing 28 times for 228 yards and three touchdowns.

Bramble rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns in a 21-10 win over Williams College.

“Even when he was ‘the guy’ and we used him more of a feature back, he showed he could get stronger as the game went on,” said Dartmouth running backs coach Chris Wilkerson. “He’s a tough physical runner and still has that straight-line speed, so that when he gets to the open field he can go the distance anytime he touches the football.”

When running backs ahead of him on the depth chart were injured briefly, Bramble filled in as a kick returner. He fielded two for an average of 15 yards per return.

Bramble said adjusting to the mental challenges of college football are nearly as tedious as the physical portions.

“The college game you have to do a lot more reads and it’s a lot more mental than I thought it would be,” he said. “In high school you just have to memorize the play and do what you had to. In college you have to look for certain linebackers and looking to see what is going on all over the field instead of looking to see what you have to do.”

While helping to lead Floyd Central to a 9-2 record last season, Bramble rushed for 2,875 yards and 47 touchdowns. He averaged 261 rushing yards per game.

He easily led the state in rushing touchdowns (11 more than next closest) and yards per game rushing (21 yards more than his nearest challenger).

Bramble has handled his role as observer and learner well, Wilkerson said.

“I think he’s been very mature about it,” he said. “He’s a team guy and has been very unselfish and has continued to learn and understands where he is right now. I’m sure he would like to play more but it really all comes down to circumstance. I know he has the talent to be that guy (in the future) but he has been unselfish and done everything we’ve asked him to do.”

While he’s passionate about football, Bramble knows education comes first, one of the reasons he chose to attend Dartmouth.

His work ethic in the classroom, along with on the football field, made attending an Ivy League school a reality.

“When I first got a letter from Harvard and some other schools I thought it was crazy and there was no way I could get into those schools,” Bramble recalled. “But I guess starting off good in high school in my freshman year, and keeping up the good grades, really paid off in the long run. Most people would call me a nerd because I tried hard, but trying hard really paid off in the long run.

“It’s mainly the reason I came here. The likelihood of me going to the NFL is not great so why not come somewhere that is going to help me the rest of my life. I think a school like this will do that. My high school coach (Brian Glesing) was always talking about being a student athlete and not just an athlete, and I think that really rubbed off.”

Dartmouth is 5-4 heading into Saturday’s season finale at Princeton. The Big Green have produced one of the Ivy League’s best running attacks in recent seasons.

Dominick Pierre is averaging just over 100 yards per game rushing, second in the Ivy League.

Former Dartmouth running back Nick Schweiger led the Ivy League in rushing the past three seasons and was in the St. Louis Rams’ NFL training camp this season.

Local fans won’t have to travel too far to watch Bramble potentially play in the future, as Dartmouth will play at Butler next season on Sept. 21, 2013.

It’s not outside of the realm of possibility that Bramble could play a big role in that game.

“We feel very good about his potential and he has a bright future with us,” Wilkerson said. “We’re excited about his continued development in our program.”

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