It didn't take long for Rico Berrios to realize his son had a gift.
“When it rained he was like, 'Dad, let's go out and throw' and he must have been no more than 3, 4-years-old,” Rico Berrios said of his son, Braxton. “And I could throw the ball as far as I could and I couldn't overthrow him.
“But the best part for me wasn't throwing over his head but watching him dive and catch the ball.”
Growing up, Leesville Road High star Braxton Berrios was always the best player on his team.
“My Pop Warner team won a national championship,” he said.
Soon, word of his abilities began to spread.
“You could just tell there's something different about him,” said Leesville tackle Chris Pendergraft. “He's got it in him to be that extra step player, the one above everyone else.”
Most of the time, the 5-foot-9, 172-pound Berrios played up in age group and when he hit high school, he did the same, starting both ways on the varsity as a freshman. The thought of playing against kids three years older than didn't faze his him or his family.
“I always said he was a man amongst boys,” Rico Berrios said. “From Pop Warner on he was always so much better than the competition. I truly thought as he got older the competition would get closer to him, but as a freshman he was still as good as any, junior, senior out there I saw playing.”
That freshman year was fun for Braxton Berrios. After years of dominating, expectations weren't quite as high. He also got to join a Leesville team that included his brother Austin, now a receiver at East Carolina University.
“It was more on that fun side, because no one really expected it from you,” he said. “No one hit you up before the game and said, 'I can't wait to see you have that, three, four TD night.' It's just, ‘Good luck out there – I love watching you play, can't wait to see you play.'”
That must seem like a long time ago for Berrios. He's a marked man now, as opponents try to get physical with him and coaches set their game plans to stop him.
It's enough to keep Barrios working, pushing and fretting about something
as trivial as a bad practice.
“You can't afford to have those bad games, those bad practices,” he said. “You drop a few balls and
you go out and catch a hundred, or lay in bed and throw the ball to yourself a hundred times.”
Colleges have responded to that work ethic in droves. One box full of college letters was only about a month or two worth of letters. He has more than 20 scholarship offers from schools across the ACC and SEC.
One website, 247sports.com, ranks him the No. 15 prospect in North Carolina.
Lee Berrios, his mother, said of his college decision, “I think he's agonizing over it some but not the point that it's out of control. It's a big decision and he's 17 years old.”
“It's the biggest decision of my life,” he said. “It's a huge decision and the worst part about it is, I don't think you can go wrong.”