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UNC recruit Brooks Brannon sets NC RBI record, stays focused on team

UNC recruit Brooks Brannon sets NC RBI record, stays focused on team
UNC commit Brooks Brannon set the North Carolina high school record for RBIs in a single season in his final year with Randleman High School. (Courtesy: Jake Smith)

RANDLEMAN, N.C. (BVM) – A record-breaking season is always an accomplishment. When you break the mark for runs batted in for a single season with six games to go, that’s something special.

Randleman senior catcher Brooks Brannon, a University of North Carolina recruit, snapped a tie at 62, previously set in 2011 by Alex Ledford from T.C. Roberson and matched by Royce Peterson from Murphy in 2018. He finished the regular season with 72 RBIs. However, Brannon was adamant he would not let it go to his head.

“I’m just trying to live this last ride with my boys as much as I possibly can,” Brannon said. “To be honest, I haven’t really been paying much attention to the stats all that much. I haven’t been trying to because as much as I hate to admit it, I’m still a kid… It is hard to keep focused a lot of the time. Usually, when you look at the stats, you start trying to do too much, which is, unfortunately, something I’ve been trying to do the last couple of games.”

This season meant too much to get caught up in anything while there were still games to be played.

“I’ve just been trying to have fun,” Brannon said. “Play ball, live this out one last time… This season, it’s ultimately just trying to enjoy being a kid as much as I possibly can. After this, it gets real. I mean real life starts to happen. If you don’t recognize that and you don’t appreciate that, it goes by like that. Which it has gone by really fast, but I feel like I would miss a lot more of it if I wasn’t in the mindset that this isn’t about college, this isn’t about pro ball. This is about having fun, doing what I do best, playing ball with my family, and just having fun.”

For Brannon, living out the experience of his senior season has been focused on his teammates. The record plays heavily into that. Without them, this record couldn’t happen.

“Which is one thing people don’t really understand,” Brannon said. “It’s not just me. It is a team effort… A grand slam isn’t a grand slam if the three guys in front of me don’t get a hit or walk or have a quality at bat or get on base. It is a very team-oriented record, which I feel like yes, it’s cool to have my name there, but I think everybody there had something to do with it…

“Having an amazing lineup that we have takes a lot of pressure off me. Let’s say bases loaded, I get up and I get out, or I walk. A walk is still an RBI, but it’s not four RBIs. The fact that I have someone behind me like Braylen (Hayes), he has just as much potential and then Gus (Shelton) behind him or Seth (Way) behind him or Bryson (Poe) behind him, to drive in just as many runs, it takes the pressure off me feeling like I have to do this. Because I trust the guys in front of me and the guys behind me to do their job.”

Brannon’s and his teammates’ success this season is not just tied to each other, though their relationship and trust have been great. Head coach Jake Smith has been a large part of all of it.

“Coach Smith, he’s literally my second dad,” Brannon said. “If something were to happen to my parents, it’s in the will for me to go live with him. I love Coach Smith, I would give him everything I have, and I do it every single night, and I do it gladly. He has helped me in my life more than most people have… He’s really important in my life and he’s really important in the team’s life. I know everybody has that father-son relationship with him which is why I feel like he’s just a fantastic leader. Without him, we wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are now.”

While Brannon was quick to praise his teammates and his coach, he did have a phenomenal senior season for Randleman. He finished with a .575 batting average, nine doubles, two triples, and 16 home runs. Smith was quick to praise Brannon.

“What an incredible young man,” Smith said. “He’s obviously an incredible ballplayer but a better young man.”

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