MANSFIELD — Kent State may have been the first college football program to enter the Keontez Bradley sweepstakes, but the Golden Flashes probably won’t be the last.
Bradley’s performance at the 89th Mansfield Mehock Relays all but assured it.
Bradley won the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes in blustery conditions Saturday, pulling the rare triple for just the third time since the meet went metric in 1979. Piqua’s Brandon Saine won all three sprints in 2006. Clinton Davis of Munhall Steel Valley (Pa.) was the first to turn the trick in 1983.
It has been an eventful six weeks for Bradley, a junior and the son of Mansfield Senior football coach Chioke Bradley. He picked up his first Division I college football scholarship offer from Kent State on March 9.
“I’ve got interest from some other schools, but nothing really solid yet on the table,” said Bradley, a rangy cornerback.
That is likely to change once college recruiters take a look at Bradley’s highlight reel from Saturday. He won the 100 in 11.23 seconds before coasting to the title in the 400 in 51.92 seconds, more than a half-second ahead of runner-up Peyton Bodnar of St. Peter’s. He put an exclamation point on his performance with a gold medal in the 200, winning in 22.44 seconds.
“I always knew he was fast. He’s gotten better over the years,” Chioke Bradley said. “He gave up basketball and ran indoor track this year. This was his first year running indoor and coach (Tyree) Shine has done a good job of training him hard.
“He’s a hard worker and … an alpha athlete. He doesn’t ever want to be out-worked and he hates to lose.”
At 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, Bradley is somewhat of a unicorn among cornerback prospects. Senior High has churned out several college-level defensive backs during Chioke Bradley’s 12 seasons in charge — Division I recruits Angelo Grose (Michigan State) and younger brother Aveon Grose (Charlotte) come immediately to mind — but none of them came in the package Keontez Bradley offers.
“That’s a premium. That is why a lot of colleges are after him, because of his size and speed,” Chioke Bradley said. “We’ll see how it goes, recruiting-wise with football.
"I think track is a good marriage when it comes to other sports. Track prepares you for every other sport that you play.”
Keontez Bradley was a member of what was statistically the greatest defensive backfield in school history last fall. He accounted for four of Senior High’s jaw-dropping 24 interceptions in 12 games.
Sophomore Ja’ontay O’Bryant, who started opposite Bradley and is also a member of Mansfield Senior’s track program, had a team-high seven interceptions.
Opponents who attempt to complete a pass against the Tygers next fall will do so at their own risk.
“I love playing corner. I play some wideout, but corner is definitely where I stand out,” Keontez said. “We’re in the weight room right now and on the field after every track practice. We go to the field and get some DB work in.”
With Aveon Grose, Myles Bradley and Amarr Davis lined up at receiver last fall, Keontez was the odd man out on offense — he caught only five passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. That won’t be the case this year after the graduation of Aveon Grose and Myles Bradley, who accounted for 90 receptions, 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“He played some wide receiver for us in the slot,” Chioke Bradley said. “We’ll transition him to the outside.
"With his frame and his speed, he’s going to be the take-the-top off guy on the outside. He’ll definitely be a guys who stretches the field for us.”
Football will have to wait for the time being as Keontez will focus on track for the next couple of months. He’ll have to pick a discipline, however, as he also is an outstanding hurdler.
“He’s both,” track coach Tyree Shine said when asked if Keontez is a stronger hurdler or sprinter. “Whatever goes the best for him, that’s what we’re going to roll with. We’re going to be doing both.
“Look at his body. He’s more developed and he’s getting more mentally tough. I’m not surprised at anything he’s doing.”