It’s an experiment that has true benefit and merit, but also one with a big hill to climb before permanent implementation throughout...
Even if he weren't slated to leave Medford, Brady Breeze wouldn't be spending much time here this summer anyway.
Breeze, who recently announced he would be transferring from South Medford to Central Catholic, spent last weekend at an invitation-only Nike football training camp at the University of Oregon. Beginning Tuesday, the incoming junior will embark on a tour of camps at Stanford, Washington, Oregon State, UCLA and USC.
"These next few weeks are going to be exhausting," said Breeze, "but hopefully they all go well and maybe I can get some (recruiting) letters out of it."
The first stop for the 6-foot-1, 185-pound safety/receiver was a successful one, with the Medford native holding his own against elite talents from all over the state as well as California, Washington, Idaho and Nevada.
North Medford incoming senior Tristen Holmes also participated in the Nike camp.
"I was kind of nervous because they're all studs there and some total men up there," said Breeze, "but I thought I did pretty good. I got five picks so that was pretty sweet."
The five-hour camp included one-on-one and seven-on-seven competition, with Breeze shining the most with a handful of interceptions and pass breakups during the one-on-one session.
"I went through 10 rounds and the first three were nothing big but then I got a pick and then some more picks and bat-downs," he said. "After a while I just kind of realized I can hang with these guys and that they aren't that much better, so I just put it in the back of my mind that I can do it."
The one-on-ones provided a different challenge for Breeze, whose comfort zone on defense is at the safety position.
"It was a little bit harder moving from safety to corner but I guess I did pretty good," he said.
The camp allowed Breeze some time to clear his head a little as he prepares to make the move north with his family after his dad, Jim, received an offer to expand his financial advisory business. The elder Breeze is the founder and chief executive of Breeze Financial Group here in Medford and will transition to the Portland area to build on that business.
The entire Breeze family, parents Jim and Christy and their children Bo, Brady, Bryson, Brock and Brenna will be moving from Medford in July, and have already found a condominium in Lake Oswego to call home.
"It's been really hard lately for the whole family," said Breeze. "It's really hard leaving. We have a huge family here and we're super close and leaving all our friends is tough."
Making the transition easier is a number of family friends who live in the Portland area, including Vic Rust, whose son Ronnie is also an incoming junior at Central Catholic, a Class 6A private school in Portland.
Breeze attended a Rams practice two weeks ago and left impressed.
"I got to talk with a bunch of the coaches and the players and it was great," he said. "They all came up to me and they're super excited that I'm coming. They were all super inviting and happy to have me there, it was pretty sweet."
The visit helped make the move a little more of a reality for Breeze.
"I'm pretty excited for it," he said. "It's just kind of a big deal in my life and will kind of test who I really am. It's a big adventure."
Breeze said nothing has been promised to him but an opportunity to compete at Central Catholic, which beat Jesuit for the 6A state title last fall and is loaded with returning talent.
"I think that will just make me work harder to prove that I can do it and earn a spot because nothing's going to be given up there, I have to earn it," he added.
Last season for South Medford, Breeze was expected to be a focal point of the offense and defense but a broken hand cut into that possibility. He caught 12 passes for 158 yards in the first two games before breaking his hand and playing in a cast the rest of the way. He still wound up with five interceptions and 79 tackles for the Panthers.
Breeze is also a standout outfielder in baseball and two-year starter for the Panthers. He will be competing in the 16U Perfect Game Baseball World Series in Fort Myers, Florida, July 26-30 at the Jet Blue Player Development Complex.
Besides having to pass on that he wouldn't be returning to South Medford to his uncle, former NFL safety Chad Cota, who is an assistant coach with the Panthers, Breeze said it was rough having to give the news to his main coaches at South Medford, football coach Bill Singler and baseball coach Ray Smith.
"I talked to them and they both said they just wish me the best and they'll be looking for big things from me in the future," said Breeze. "Bill was really nice about it, he wrote me a big letter and was super nice about it and that just made it a little harder. I read that and was like, 'Geez, this guy's awesome.'"
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry