Muleshoe High School senior Brady Black directs traffic from his free safety position during a recent practice in Muleshoe. Black returns to his free safety position where as a junior he had three interceptions. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
MULESHOE — Brady Black grew up in the company of three older sisters. While he doesn’t say exactly what they made him do, a slight flush of embarrassment does come across Black’s face when he admits to being their “play toy.”
But little brother has turned out to be pretty good at traditional boys games too.
Last year, the Muleshoe running back rushed for 1,355 yards — with an 8.4 yards per carry average — and scored 13 touchdowns as a junior.
Black also played free safety for the Mules and picked three interceptions, then went on to play basketball and run track.
He nearly qualified for the state track meet in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles. Black finished third in both regional races with only the top two qualifying for state.
“It was a heartbreaker,” said Black, who’s looking for a chance to clear that final hurdle this year in order to make the big meet. “I’ve been going down there, just watching, for four or five years. Just to be on that track would be unbelievable — with everybody yelling and screaming for you.”
For now, though, it’s all about football and schoolwork for Black, with an occasional sprinkling of activities like showing livestock.
Black’s family, which does some farming and ranching, has lived in a house about a mile west of town his whole life.
“He’s probably about the most focused athlete we’ve had come through here in a long time,” Muleshoe football coach David Wood said.
“When it’s track season, it’s all track. When it’s football season, it’s all football,” he said. “When it’s basketball, it’s all basketball. If a stock show happens, it catches several sports, but he’s going to juggle his schedule to make it work.”
He also makes it work very well on the football field. Black’s main ambition, athletically, is to play for either Texas Tech or Texas A&M and Wood thinks it’s more than just possible that’ll happen.
“He’s 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, runs a 4.4 40 (yard dash). I think guys can find a place for someone like that,” Wood said. “He’s an exceptional athlete. He’s so naturally strong, I mean he’s not going to go out and bench 500 pounds, but he’ll stiff-arm a bull.
“We love watching him run against his opponents, because he’ll make the big guys miss by stiff-arming them and make the little guys (miss) with quick moves. He’s just one of those guys everybody loves having on your football team, and not just for his athletic ability but for his leadership.”
Black helped lead the Mules to a 35-0 season-opening win Friday over long-time rival Friona, rushing 130 yards and for three touchdowns.
Before that, the last time Black cradled the pigskin in a high school football game the running was tougher than usual — especially in the second half of a 42-12 playoff loss to Snyder. After gaining 89 yards in the first two quarters, Black fought his way for only 13 more the rest of the game as Muleshoe played from behind.
That loss, since it is football season, is currently weighing on Black’s mind.
“We were a little overwhelmed. We kind of had an inexperienced squad and hadn’t really played someone of that magnitude. If we go back this year, we know what it’s like to play somebody of that stature,” Black said.
“We have big dreams this year. We definitely want to have a strong preseason and then go into district 5-and-0. Then, hopefully, we can win district and have a deep playoff run.”