“You can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him” was what ESPN’s Dan Patrick used to quip on SportsCenter when he described a player who effortlessly heads to the end zone.
It’s probably a mantra that defensive coordinators try to adhere to when they plan against the Lancaster Tigers and their star running back Kevontre Bradford. Because of his ability to automatically turn on the velocity when he spots huge openings, Bradford finds himself at the center of a recruiting war between high-profile programs such as Ohio State, Wisconsin and LSU.
Not a day goes by that Lancaster head coach Christopher Gilbert does not thank his lucky stars for the gifted two-sport athlete. Bradford also runs track for the Tigers.
“He’s an unbelievable weapon offensively,” Gilbert told Texas Scorecard. “It doesn’t take him long to have an explosive play.”
Bradford lettered three years under Gilbert, who is in his ninth season at Lancaster. According to the coach, the 5-foot-11-inch, 195-pound senior “can actually do it all,” including making a catch from the backfield.
“If you give him an ounce of daylight, he’s going to find it,” Gilbert said. “He’s got really good vision. Probably the best thing about him is that he gets up to top-end speed in a hurry. After one cut, he can be at top-end speed.”
Gilbert added that Bradford “is my first Division I back at Lancaster,” praising the rusher for his physical and mental toughness.
“In nine years, I never had a Division I back,” Gilbert said. “When I got to know who he was, I figured that once he matured, he would definitely be somebody special. I think that he has a bright future in college football. And if he continues to work like he works, possibly even professional.”
Lancaster began the current season with a pair of losses and was riding a three-game winning streak as of press time. The Tigers averaged around 35 points per game as of their Sept. 27 matchup against Dallas Samuell.
On Sept. 20, Lancaster mauled Mansfield Legacy, 61-0, to open district play. Bradford, who touches the ball at least nine times in a contest, scored two touchdowns.
“We’re a better team at this time this season than we were last year,” Gilbert said. “Getting better all starts with us.”
The coach recalled Bradford, who enjoys a good, tight-knit relationship with his teammates, going on a 384-yard outburst against Frisco Wakeland in last year’s playoffs.
“He had long run after long run after long run,” Gilbert said. “That was unbelievable.”
Aside from his skill set, Bradford’s penchant for “untouched runs” is attributed to his offensive teammates performing key blocks.
“Like I always tell the guys, ‘You show me a long run, I’ll show you receivers making blocks downfield,’” Gilbert said. “It’s probably one of the most underrated things that happen in long runs. It’s people realizing that those wideouts are out there working.”
Regarding the recruitment process, 247Sports forecasts Bradford to commit to the Buckeyes. Big 10 rival Wisconsin also has a good chance of landing him.
“His skill set and the recruiting of him is definitely warranted,” Gilbert said. “He can be really special. He practices really hard. He’s always getting in. He doesn’t mind running scout team. You can coach him hard. Those are all positive things about him.”
Gilbert said that he is going to miss being able to spend time with Bradford once the senior graduates in the spring.
“I’m proud of Tre and seeing him grow into the player he’s become,” Gilbert said. “The sky’s the limit for him. He’s going to keep getting better. We’re just excited for what he’s able to do.”