One year of prep football pays off for Couden
Not long ago, Brandon Couden never would’ve imagined being a college football player. Much of his prep career, he was the goalkeeper for the High Point Central boys soccer team.
But going into his senior year, he wanted to give football a shot. Now, after just that one season, it’s led him to commit to NCAA Division III school Averett University to continue his football career at the next level.
“It’s very exciting,” he says with a smile. “More than anything, since I don’t plan to make a career out of it, it’s going to be fun to tell my kids: You might not want to let your head get so big, because I played football in college.”
As a freshman in high school, Couden, the son of Gerald and Elizabeth, toyed with playing football. But, because he was also involved in the International Baccalaureate program, he felt soccer would better fit his rigorous study schedule.
Playing three years at goalkeeper, he was good enough to earn an all-conference selection as a junior. But, for his senior year, he wanted to go a different route and try out for football.
“Once senior season rolled around, I didn’t want to leave high school without playing at least one year of football,” says Couden, who impressed his coaches at wide receiver early in the summer workouts.
“It’s mostly the spirit of brotherhood. It’s a closer-knit group than any other team. There are 50 people you can always hang out with and they’re a lot more honest with you about how they feel. It’s just different.”
During the season, Couden totaled 34 catches for 433 receiving yards (second most on the team) and helped the Bison go 9-3 overall and 5-1 in the Piedmont Triad 4A Conference, clinching second place outright.
“He did an excellent job catching the ball for us,” Central coach Wayne Jones says. “With him being a one-year player, I wish we had him for four years. I can’t say enough about him.
“He learned the playbook over the summer and was even teaching it to kids who’ve been playing for a while. Being a good student, he was just able to catch on to the game, and I think his best football’s ahead of him.”
After the season, Jones called Couden down to talk with a coach from Averett. To that point, he hadn’t given playing in college a second thought. And even then, he really didn’t think too much about it.
But as the possibility of playing became more real (in addition to a good financial package), Couden, who also considered UNCC and N.C. State to study and a handful of small schools for football, decided to jump on the opportunity to play for the Cougars.
“At the time, I didn’t really plan on going there,” says Couden, who wants to study mathematics and statistics. “It was like: I don’t really feel like going to a D-III school. If anything, I’ll not play sports and go somewhere and get a good education.
“But the more it looked like I could actually go there and play, I decided I’d go ahead. They all seemed excited. You picture a D-III atmosphere as nobody caring about football. But the small number of people who are there all love football. So, it’s a good atmosphere.”