Earlier this month, 2016 recruits Rex Culpepper and Scoop Bradshaw Jr. each gave verbal commitments to the Syracuse Orange football program. The two play high school football together at the Henry B. Plant High School in Tampa, Fla.
But there's more to the Syracuse recruits than what happens on the gridiron. Culpepper and Bradshaw's bond goes beyond football. As detailed by Syracuse.com yesterday, the two have fought through challenges to ultimately end up playing for the Orange together in 2016.
The beleaguered Bradshaw didn't have an easy life growing up. In the early years, Bradshaw's father faced a plethora of legal troubles. His father has been charged with multiple felonies, but despite his troubles, Bradshaw admits that he has held a positive relationship with his dad, Bradshaw Sr.
"It was kind of hard because I didn't know what it was really about. Now that I know, it's still hard, but you understand it." Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw was able to receive help from the Culpepper family. The two formed a bond at a young age through little league baseball. The relationship that was fostered through their younger years continued to grow through middle school and high school. By the time Bradshaw reached high school he started spending multiple nights a week with the Culpepper family. At first Bradshaw had difficulty adjusting to the Culpepper's disciplined culture of focusing on school first while being in bed by 10 p.m. and being up early for school. Eventually the regimen became normal.
Rex grew up in more comfortable circumstances than Bradshaw. Son of former NFL player Brad Culpepper, Rex has had immediate mentorship available to him. His dad and grandfather played football for the University of Florida, a school with a rich football tradition. With Culpepper's upbringing, it seems unlikely that he would ever be linked to someone with Bradshaw's background, but that hasn't stopped the two of them from forging a strong friendship. There's no reason to believe that bond will come to a halt either. In the summer of 2016, the two captains of their high school football team will head to Syracuse as brothers.
"We've come a long way from kids who probably wouldn't associate with each other." Said Culpepper.
In that context lies one of the true beautiful things in sport. It doesn't matter who you are or where you come from, team sports have a way of unifying individuals in a way that wouldn't be possible in other circumstances.
So long as they both stay committed (and National Signing Day is truly a long way away still), it'll be great to see that relationship continue to play out on the Hill.