Football legend speaks of past and future

Football legend speaks of past and future
October 04
04:00 2018

Parkland High School has produced its fair share of talented athletes throughout the years. One of the best to ever carry the football for the Mustangs was Brandon Isaiah. 

Isaiah was a stud running back for Parkland in the late 1990s.  He went on to play his collegiate ball at the University of Virginia.  His Number 8 jersey has been retired by Parkland and he was recently inducted into the third class of the Parkland High School Hall of Fame.

“It was kind of surreal,” Isaiah said about being inducted into the Parkland Hall of Fame.  “The way I was raised coming up was to always strive to be the best.  To get a call to know that I am technically as good as other great players that have played at my high school, which I take pride in being a Parkland alum, was a great feeling.”

Isaiah’s talents did not stop on the football field.  He was also a star player for the Mustangs basketball team as well.  He says that basketball was actually his first love, but football just came so naturally to him.

“Sports was always like a family thing for us because my father was a longtime coach and my older brother was a great athlete,” he said.  “Growing up playing for the Tiny Indians was a big deal.  Being the youngest in the household, I felt like there was always a standard to live up to.”

“I actually had a couple of offers to play Division I AA basketball in high school.  I pretty much just played a lot of sports like baseball as well as running track, on top of football and basketball.”

The transition from the 10th to 11th grade was where Isaiah realized that football could really take him places.  He rushed for over 1,800 yards during his junior year and followed that up with a state championship on the basketball team.

“My junior year is where I really hit the weight room and took some strides,” he said.  “I had a big year in football and then we went 29-1 and won the state championship in basketball, so athletically my abilities just took off.”

“I had so much success athletically that year individually, but basketball opened up a lot of things for me.  The thing growing up was that you wanted to go DI.  In my junior year, I started to get a lot more mail and started getting recruited heavier and getting letters.  Having the opportunity to go to college to play football became something that was more realistic to me.”

Isaiah says the recruiting process was really fun for him.  He says many of the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) schools started approaching him.  He says some of the schools wanted him to play on the defensive side of the ball, but his heart was at the running back position.

Isaiah said he had his mind made up that he wanted to leave the state of North Carolina to play college football.  He says growing up he didn’t have a lot of money, so to leave the state he knew he had to get a scholarship. 

The University of Virginia approached him a few days before signing day.  Isaiah says he knew there had been former local greats that attended the university, so when they offered him a scholarship he accepted.

“Virginia came down three days before signing day, which was great because we have had some guys from Winston-Salem that have had some success there,” he continued.  “It was kind of like there was a tradition of North Carolina guys going to UVA and being successful.  I felt like they were my opportunity to go Division I and leaving the state, so I ended up picking Virginia.”

Unfortunately for Isaiah, his college career did not go as he planned.  A knee injury and a coaching staff change during his redshirt freshman year somewhat derailed what would have been a promising career as the starting tailback for the Cavaliers.

“Most of my role in college was relegated to being a reserve player and a special teams guy,” Isaiah continued.  “My career went a little different than how I thought would.”

“I got injured my redshirt freshman year and the guy that recruited me retired my freshman year.  The next year the school brought in the Number 6 recruiting class in the nation, so you know how that goes.  I made a lot of plays on special teams and games where I made some plays, but the plan was never clearly directed for me to become a star, which is what happens to a lot of guys who get injured or go through a coaching change.”

Overall, Isaiah says he is happy with his career because he was able to be a part of a “great program” at UVA.  He says five of the guys whom he played in the same backfield with in college made it to the NFL at some point.

Isaiah says he had thoughts of transferring schools at one point, but decided to stick it out at UVA.

“I thought about transferring, but I’ve never been the guy that was like ‘I am going to go somewhere else to play,’” he said.  “I always felt like if I worked hard and stayed the course, that things would happen for me.”

Isaiah graduated from UVA in 2004 with a degree in sociology.  He had a few tryouts with NFL teams but was unable to latch on with any franchise.  He had a successful career playing Arena Football for several years, while also coaching high school football.

Isaiah got his opportunity to be a head coach at Albemarle High School in Charlottesville, Virginia.  He feels his experience as a Division I athlete allows him to relate to his players better, while also giving him more credibility when he gives them instructions.

He says he wants to master being a high school coach before he even thinks of moving up to the college level.  He says he wants to teach the proper work ethic to his team because many young players have a “sense of entitlement” that was not present when he played high school sports.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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