The post-draft discussion involving the Panthers has centered on the speed and playmaking abilities of first- and second-round picks Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel.
There’s fast – and then there’s ran-the-100-in-the-Rio-Olympics fast, which only one player at the Panthers’ rookie minicamp can claim.
Former Florida State wide receiver and U.S. Olympian Marvin Bracy is one of the more intriguing stories among the 35 tryout players at minicamp this weekend.
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He left the Seminoles’ program in 2013 to pursue a track career, which culminated with a spot on the American team in the Summer Games in Rio. Despite running with a groin injury that had bothered him for several months, Bracy advanced to the semifinals in the 100-meter dash. His 10.08-second clocking was not fast enough to make the finals.
I feel like ... in open space, I feel like there’s nobody that can bring me down.
Had Bracy medaled in Rio and been offered sponsorship deals, he might still be running track. Instead, he decided to chase his football dream.
“(Medaling) would have made the decision a hell of a lot harder. But I wanted to get back on the field for so long now,” Bracy said after Friday’s second minicamp practice. “Even watching games is hard, especially FSU games because those are the guys I came in with.”
Bracy attended FSU’s pro day in March, but was not allowed to participate in receiver drills because he had not been working out with the Seminoles’ quarterback. But he ran the 40 and told a reporter afterward he’d been clocked at 4.30 seconds – a shade faster than Samuel’s 4.33 time at the combine.
“No disrespect to McCaffrey or (Panthers undrafted wideout) Fred Ross or Curtis Samuel, because those guys have the total package,” Bracy said. “But I feel like my speed is a little bit different – in the sense that me in open space, I feel like there’s nobody that can bring me down.”
Bracy, 23, hasn’t played a football game since the Under Armour All-American Game in 2012. So there’s clearly some rust. And his 5-9, 170-pound frame might not be able to survive an NFL season.
But for a team looking to get faster as it evolves the offense, Bracy was worth bringing in for a look.
“One of the things we’re trying to look for is speed and trying to stretch that film and open up things underneath. We want to see guys who can do that for us,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “But there is a learning process and a learning curve for these guys.”
But, Rivera added, “anytime you run a sub 10-second 100, it’s pretty impressive.”