Josh Braun trains to be a RHINO.
- R: Relentless
- H: Hard
- I: Intense
- N: Nasty
- O: O-lineman
That is the way to lead off things about a massive prospect who has caught the attention of Sam Pittman. The 4-star OT rates as the nation’s No. 26 prospect at his position. That will slot him on the 247Sports Composite at No. 257 overall for 2020.
The ratings will mean very little to him. His game tape is his football DNA.
In a world where the O-line still gets called the “Hogs” dating back to Joe Gibbs and the Washington Redskins in the 1980s, his father found a better term in that “RHINO” for offensive linemen.
Mike Braun is the athletic director, line coach and running game coordinator at Suwannee High in Florida. His vision of a lineman is a great athlete. Not a pot belly wallowing in the mud.
His youngest son, Josh, is beyond the ordinary hornbill. That was why recent commitment Tate Ratledge called Braun his top target last week.
What does Braun like best about Georgia? He led off with a repeated theme in our exchange.
“Once more I have to bring up their great academics,” he said. “But aside from academics, Tate Ratledge just committed. He is one of the top offensive linemen in the country. Playing with him would be good for my game and good for his game. Through the years if we played together, we’d have a pretty solid tackle base.”
“There is another great tackle coming in, too. [5-star Broderick Jones] I think they have two. So the guys in my class would be the best in the nation. The defensive lineman I’d be playing against would be the best in the nation. If you are going against those guys in practice and playing with those guys on Saturday, you’re going to be prepared for whatever comes at you. So that’s what I am attracted to at Georgia.”
He has a unique look at his position fit.
“I’d say I have a tackle’s body with a guard’s mindset,” Josh Braun said.
He will stand over six feet, six inches in height. Braun just tells schools he is 78 inches tall. He is at least that tall. The Braun recruitment is built around certainties.
His college choice will also reflect that. When he commits, that will be it.
Rhinos aren’t known for drama. This one especially. He will not fret over an early position fit.
“First and foremost, it is just to help the team,” he said. “Contribute any way I can. But then as I establish myself as a team player and develop my game enough I will probably transition to mainly tackle. That’s what all the coaches I have talked to have said I will have the most opportunities at. They also say I could play guard and tackle and I can learn how to play center if we were in desperate need.”
THE QUICK READ ON JOSH BRAUN
- The wingspan has been measured at 84 inches. That is the prototype for an elite college left tackle. “I’ve told coach Pittman if you can make him into an Isaiah Wilson, then that’s what we would like to have happen here,” his father Mike Braun said.
- Is from an OL family that sent two brothers off to play major snaps at Georgia Tech.
- Carries a 4.0 and a 33 on his ACT with another 1480 on his Sat. Bruan is set on becoming a National Merit Scholar.
- He’s down to three schools. He just visited Florida on one of his three decision-defining officials.
- When he drops about 20-25 pounds for the season, he will wield a guard’s agility in a tackle’s body. Pittman has told the Brauns he can play all over the line. The emphasis is at tackle.
- His father, Mike, played for Army. Both of his parents are West Point grads.
- His older brother, Trey, started 34 straight games at Tech after a redshirt year. He was a mechanical engineering grad and carried a 4.0 grade-point average as an MBA student. Trey Braun made the Dean’s list five times at Tech prior to his final season in 2015. The Jackets won the Orange Bowl in his time and even beat the Bulldogs.
- South Carolina will get its official visit on May 31-June 1.
- Georgia will get its 48-hour official on June 15. He hopes to make a decision after all three visits.
- These three programs were nowhere near the options his family thought would be in it at the end. The data and diligence led to those three schools.
A dancer’s feet on the OL? Josh Braun works on those
Braun is a RHINO that can dance. He partnered up with a 6-foot-1 dancer at his school because she needed a partner who was tall enough to perform with.
“Last year I was taking [Advanced Placement Psychology] and my A.P. Psych teacher is also a dance teacher,” Josh Bruan said. “Her daughter is dating my best friend. So she needed two guys to dance with two of her dancers in a production. So she asked my friend and myself because we had a girl who was about 6-foot-1 and she needed a partner.”
In most cases, the male teenager at this age makes decisions based on two factors: Food. Something about a girl. Or all of the above.
“It was just helping out a teacher of mine who has been a great teacher and also a friend,” he said.
The college experience of his brothers continues to benefit him. Parker Braun followed his oldest brother, Trey, to Tech. But he recently made a graduate transfer to Texas after two straight years of All-ACC recognition.
“Not that I know what [college football] will be like,” Josh Braun said. “But I have a better understanding of how hard it will be. Some of the kids who don’t have family members playing at the collegiate level aren’t aware that recruiting is a smokescreen. To get there it is going to be a thousand times harder. It is going to be this and that.”
“So just having my brothers go through that, I can have their ear and they can guide me through this process. When I get there, I will know what to expect.”
His makeup on and off the field comes from both siblings.
“I learned the intensity to play with from my middle brother Parker,” Josh Braun said. “I model my athletics around my middle brother Parker and I model my academics after my older brother Trey.”
Braun checks even more boxes than the first few volleys here. This RHINO stands out with more of the following:
- Plays the No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles for his high school tennis team. The video captures here look like the way the “Hulk” from Marvel Comics lore might play ping pong.
- Doesn’t do Twitter or Instagram or Facebook. Social media seems to be very anti-RHINO.
- Believes his high school film is his DNA. That’s why he will not do camps or showcases events to enhance his ratings.
- An interview opportunity with Braun must be scheduled around workouts and study sessions.
- There will be no worries about playing time. Per his father, it is about development. Braun should not start at any of these schools until he is ready to dominate as one of the top linemen on the team.
- Fast track to the NFL? Braun will likely look at college as a quest for a master’s degree. Not a fast lane to shake Roger Goodell’s hand. He will leave college when he has nothing left to learn from his coaches, strength coaches and most importantly the university faculty.
— Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) May 21, 2019
The tennis game provides a highly-adaptable benefit to a RHINO.
“Tennis has definitely helped with the lateral movement and just getting from point A to point B as quick as you can,” he said. “But more than just the footwork side of it. It has helped me to play without water. If that makes sense. From tennis, I learned how to play without constantly taking water breaks.”
“You have to go two games before you can get a drink and even then you only get a minute break in between every two games. We’d be out in 95-degree heat with one water break every half four. So when I got to spring football I didn’t even realize we weren’t taking water breaks. I had been so used to it.”
A Tech family at UGA? The Josh Braun plot thickens
This seems about the right spot to bring up some of that “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” between Georgia and Georgia Tech.
Braun didn’t want to go to Georgia. He bought into the perception of the UGA academic profile for a time. Especially compared to the Georgia Institute of Technology.
The Bulldogs got a chance here because the Braun decision and his three final schools were basically shaped by three criteria.
- Academic strength
- The reputation of the OL coach at the program
- The reputation of the strength coach at the program
In case that hasn’t been much abundantly clear so far, he is a sharp student. He only has to take an economics class and an English class left. That will allow him to enroll early in January of 2020.
When he started to visit Georgia at first, it was seen as a castaway visit. Was the first visit supposed to be a cross-them-off trip?
The Braun family won’t say anything like that. But the rhinos in the room might nod their head if that specific subject came up.
“It was one of those things where you don’t think every program is going to be great until you visit and you realize that every program is great,” Josh Braun said.
He remembers the first trip to UGA. He was telling his father that he didn’t want to go to Georgia. His father counseled him that their due diligence was necessary. Especially since the Bulldogs checked off all three phases of his three-point criteria.
“When we went there, I couldn’t say that I didn’t want to go there,” Braun said. “Now over time, I realized it might want to be one of the schools I wanted to go to.”
The biggest flip there was the academics. With two brothers who played at Tech, there was a notion to discount the academics at Georgia.
But he gave UGA an unbiased look. He sat down with the academic advisors and professors. Checked the enrollment stats.
“I could not accept my stereotype anymore,” Josh Braun said.
Braun knows that Florida has a top 10 public university rank, but now can cite that UGA is right behind that at No. 13.
“For what I want to study in business Georgia probably has the most well-rounded business school out of the three,” he said. “Most likely risk management because I believe that is Georgia’s best-rated program. But if I was to go there and actually take classes I will see what interests me and will go on from there.”
He is interested in traveling internationally and working. If he chooses UGA, he will co-major at the Terry College in international business.
“I will minor in linguistics or a language and something along those lines,” he said.
How do these schools recruit Josh Braun?
“All three of them are elite SEC programs,” Josh Braun said. “So the athletic side of it they are all basically similar. They have great nutritionists. Great weight rooms. Great weight training staffs. They will play in the best environments with the opportunity to compete against people at the highest level.”
He views those as all the same from the athletics standpoints. Basically.
“So when it comes down to it then it is the academic and the career opportunities I could get from each school,” he said.
He visits Florida more because of the distance factor from his home in Florida. They are also able to visit him with greater frequency during contact periods. Braun feels he has likely spent the most time at Florida.
The Gators were trying to land Parker as a grad transfer. He was able to join him on that visit, too.
“So I’ve seen I think two coaching changes,” Josh Braun said. “So I’ve been around the Florida program for a while and know what they have to offer.”
He feels that the Gamecocks were one of the first, if not the first, to recruit him. He has an understanding with offensive line coach Eric Wolford.
“Coach ‘Wolf’ and I are of one mind when it comes to recruiting,” Josh Braun said. “I’m not very flashy. He’s not very flashy. It is probably a once-a-month thing. He just lets me know that they want me and I let him know that I am interested in them. It is so far away I am not able to travel there a lot.”
He said he has now been to Georgia almost as many times as he has been to Florida now.
It helps that Trey and his wife, Anna Marie, live in Atlanta. They have a child on the way. He was actually able to make an unplanned trip to Athens for G-Day because she was holding a baby shower. His mother had to go help with it.
His sister-in-law is also the volleyball coach at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.
“It is easier to travel to Georgia than it is to South Carolina even though it is a somewhat similar distance because my brothers live so close,” he said.
The Gamecocks, he knows, do have the nation’s top program for international business.
“That’s the main reason I am still attracted to that school,” he said. “Their international business program is phenomenal and that is my main interest in college. When I visited their business school, it was phenomenal. It was not what I was expecting.”
What is he looking for? Well, this RHINO won’t lie. Or try to sound smart or clever with a polished answer he doesn’t really feel.
“As I right now, I don’t really know,” he said. “When I find that out, it will make the decision easier. Once I find the biggest factor and I see which school is the best at that, then I will have my decision. I don’t have an answer for that one yet. I’m sorry.”
One last thing to know about Josh Braun
With Braun, there’s something else to add. The question of why he will play college football is a different answer here.
With his 33 on the ACT and that 4.0 grade-point average, he could go to just about any college anywhere. For free. Without having to splatter defensive ends and linebackers for what sounds like a true five years in college.
He wants to exit college with a master’s degree. Not just a lot of stats and film for the NFL to purvey. Anything having to do with Sundays would just be the gravy here. Not the backbone of a dream.
So why play?
“Over time the ‘why’ has developed into not a proving myself thing,” Braun said. “But more of a this is sort of what I do. This is what my family does. I want to be a part of my family. That’s one of the ‘whys’ for me. It is kind of a weak why there.”
“The other one is to hone my craft an be one of the best I can be. Just the development from that part is what I admire and what I appreciate about the game. It is that over time you get better and you start playing better people and you’ll be knocked down again and climb the ladder again.”
“I like climbing the ladder in the game of football.”