2016 wide receiver Sam Bruce has had quite a year. As a freshman at University School in Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.), Bruce was a standout wide receiver on a team that went undefeated and won a state championship. He followed up that championship by playing for the South Florida Express 7-on-7 team this summer and finished second at the IMG National Championship.
Throw in the fact that Bruce is the nephew of former NFL wide receiver Isaac Bruce, and you might start to think that he could feel a little entitled with so much success early on in his career. However, that isn’t the case with Bruce.
“Oh, yeah. Nothing’s given, “ Bruce said before Friday Night Lights. “Everything is earned.”
We first met up with Bruce back in May and watched him catch the game winning touchdown to seal a victory in the National Championship qualifying game. After the event, Bruce said that he hadn’t spoken to any of the Florida coaches, but did get a chance to talk with former Gator Keiwan Ratliff in at FNL, that didn’t last long. Ratliff told Gator Country that if he could offer a scholarship to anyone on that team – a team that includes Richard Yeargin III, Sean White, Quincy Wilson, Travis Rudolph, Ermon Lane and De’Vante Phillips – that he would offer a scholarship to Bruce. Saying that Bruce is “the real deal.” That’s high praise coming from a Gator great.
Bruce made the trip up to Friday Night Lights to visit Gainesville, meet the coaching staff, and hang out with some of his high school teammates. Even though it was the first time he visited Gainesville, Bruce treated the trip like a business vacation and wouldn’t let himself get caught up in the hype of the event.
“This is nice man, the stadium is nice. I like the town, a lot of college students, I like it,” Bruce said. “Today is all about Florida. I’m just concentrating on earning an offer.”
At just 5’7” and 170-pounds, Bruce doesn’t jump out as a game-changing receiver when you first look at him but what he lacks in height, he makes up for with blazing speed, precise route running, and some of the best hands that I’ve seen this summer. He wanted to showcase all that for the coaching staff and come away from Friday Night Lights with a scholarship offer.
“Definitely speed, I plan to catch every ball today and to not be stopped by any cornerback,” Bruce said before FNL. “It can be the No. 1 cornerback in the nation, the No. 2 cornerback in the nation, it doesn’t matter, I’m just not going to be stopped today.”
Bruce was among the fastest players at the camp and showed the kind of quickness and agility that make him a big time prospect and a player to watch. While he showed his physical ability, it was an intangible trait that Bruce showed which impressed the coaching staff the most. Being a smaller player has given Bruce a chip on his shoulder and an attitude and drive that he calls his “dog.”
“They just told me that I was exactly what they were looking for, speed, my dog, my route-running and my ability to catch every ball that came my way,” Bruce said.
Bruce’s mentality and business like approach paid dividends, as he was officially offered a scholarship by the coaching staff.
“Coach T-Rob [Travaris Robinson] offered me. He just said that I was definitely what they needed at the University of Florida.
Bruce was excited about the offer and said that Florida would definitely jump into his top five. However, as only a rising sophomore, Bruce knows that he has a long way to go before college and he’s only focusing on his sophomore high school season now.
“I’m just focused on high school and just having fun,” Bruce said. “I have a long way to go, I have three more years so I’m not really getting really serious with the recruiting process until my junior or senior year.”