Former Georgia Tech center Freddie Burden has not lacked for teammates who were renowned for their effort. Among a long list, the labors of former Yellow Jackets Shaquille Mason and Adam Gotsis helped them secure places in the NFL.
In that circle, Burden placed rising sophomore guard Parker Braun in his own category.
“Parker might be the hardest worker I’ve ever encountered,” Burden said. “I mean, from day one, it’s just amazing how he pushed himself to get the job done. Not saying other guys don’t work hard, but Parker was just special and from day one he wanted to get everything right.”
Burden recalled tutoring Braun last summer after he enrolled ahead of his first fall practice, helping him learn the footwork and other techniques for Tech’s offensive line.
“Parker would always just try hard, try his best to get everything right,” Burden said. “At that point, he didn’t even know what position he was going to play and so, just kind of taking it all in.”
That was the starting point for Braun to become one of the most impactful freshmen in the ACC. Despite not getting into the starting lineup until the sixth game of the season – he started the final eight – Braun led the Jackets in defenders to the ground and was a dependable element of the Tech offense, which averaged 4.8 yards per carry in the first five games of the season and 5.9 in the final eight after he joined the starting lineup.
He started more games as a first-year freshman (eight) than any offensive lineman in coach Paul Johnson’s tenure, was named a true freshman All-America by ESPN and was named the ACC offensive lineman of the week after Georgia Tech’s upset of No. 18 Virginia Tech in November, becoming the first Tech freshman to earn the honor.
“He’s, I guess, a technician, in a sense, and I kind of credit his brother,” Burden said. “Trey is like that, as well. I guess it’s kind of a Braun thing. But Parker, he’s a great athlete and he works hard and he cares about (his play). You can tell he cares about the program, cares about getting it right. His accolades kind of reflect that.”
Tech begins spring practice March 27, one month from Monday. Braun will be one of four returning linemen who started at least seven games last season, along with guards Will Bryan and Shamire Devine and offensive tackle Andrew Marshall.
“Watch out for Parker Braun next year, and especially his senior year,” Burden said. “Watch out – you can tell he’s going to be a good player.”
The first in a series of blog posts looking ahead to spring practice.