According to one website, the average college football Division I defensive end is approximately 6-3, 253 pounds. That would put Miami’s Bryson Albright (6-5, 243) somewhat taller and slightly thinner than average for the position. Whatever the measurements, however, Albright is a great fit along what figures to be an experienced Miami front line in 2015.
Albright is a playmaker – something that runs in the family. His brother Alex also starred as a defensive end at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati before going on to Boston College. He later played a couple years for the Dallas Cowboys before an injury ended his pro career.
Bryson, meanwhile, has managed to stay relatively healthy – and productive.
After appearing in every game for Miami during his 2012 true freshman campaign, Albright has started every game for two years. He totaled 55 tackles in each of the last two seasons, with 8.0 tackles for loss and six sacks last year when he earned Miami Defensive Lineman of the Year honors.
There have some tumultuous times for Miami football during Albright’s time in Oxford, but he’s stayed in focus and found a way to thrive.
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At the same time, Albright has a deep appreciation for what coaches can contribute to their student athletes.
In high school, he benefitted from St. Xavier head coach Steve Specht.
“I have nothing but the utmost respect for coach Specht. He helped me a lot – both on and off the field, developing me not only as a football player, but as a human being,” Albright said. “He’s really vested in his players --not only as players, but as people. He’s a great guy and a great coach.”
There are similarities, Albright said, with Miami head coach Chuck Martin.
“He wants to develop people not only as a football player, but as a person. He really pushes people to truly be the best that they can be on and off the field. I think that resonates with a lot of people. He has a way of tapping into your passion, whether its football or with school. … For each individual player, he knows how to tap into that and really motivate.”
After failing to win a game in 2013, Miami brought in Martin, an assistant at Notre Dame. Per the search criteria, he also had successful head coaching experience (Grand Valley State).
Martin acknowledged the immediate situation was beyond a quick turnaround, but the RedHawks did win two games in his first season at the helm (2014). They were also much more competitive in the losses.
From the outset, he declared his Miami teams would let other teams know they had been in a 60-minute fight. That mindset remains a priority.
“Coach Martin preaches this every day – playing with a chip on your shoulder. Especially as a defensive unit, we’ve got to come out with a chip on our shoulder,” Albright said. “We’re looking to really come out and show some people what we can do when we play with a chip on our shoulder.”
Another Martin mantra has been to get “bigger, stronger, faster.” That also remains a focus, but Martin recently remarked on how progress in those areas is showing this spring – in performance, competition and depth.
“We have bigger, stronger, faster athletes, and they are more aggressive,” he said Thursday. “We have more able bodies (now). I think you’re going to see more rotations – not just (a situation where) we’ve got 11 guys and we’re hanging on.”
With the infusion of talent and a lot of hard work, spring practice has been a battleground for positions and platform for improvement across the board.
There is “great competition at a lot of spots. Very few spots are completely wrapped up right now,” Martin said. “The offseason was great. Spring practice has been great. The competition level has gone through the roof.”
He added, “Our understanding of the game of football is coming (along). We’ve got a ways to go, (but) our kids would tell you right now they know so much more about football even than they did when they left the field (against) OU … in the 12th game of the (2014) season.”
“Everybody has (made progress) by leaps and bounds … as far as strength and conditioning and knowing your assignment and being football smart,” said Albright, who was quick to credit the school’s new indoor sports center.
That facility, located just beyond the north end zone, will be dedicated Saturday (noon), with the help of former Miami student athletes Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburg Steelers quarterback) and John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens head coach). Football, and many other MU sports teams have been using it for a couple months now.
“It’s been awesome,” Albright said. “We all appreciate it very much.”
Saturday’s noon ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled to be followed by the spring football game. According to Albright, players are really excited about the opportunity to show their progress and potential.
Ah, but it is still spring, and April showers (including possible thunderstorms) are in the forecast for Saturday. While that might impact the competition, it might also be an exclamation point for the indoor center that has already served the RedHawks so well. Martin noted numerous recruits – some already signed and some still considering MU – are likely to be in attendance.
In any case, Saturday is a wrap for Miami’s spring practice. This fall will bring more chances to shine.
“We know our past, and we know everybody else knows our past. We’ve always got something to prove. We know we can do things,” Albright said. “We’ve got some definite playmakers. … It’s exciting stuff, and I’m excited to see how we develop.”