Bartlett quarterback Braylen Ragland grew up in a basketball family. His parents both played basketball and were big fans.
Up until high school Braylen was ready to be a basketball player.
“You couldn’t tell me I wasn’t going into the NBA until I was in eighth grade,” he said.
Ragland, a 6-foot, 195-pound athlete said had he been faster or quicker, maybe basketball was his future, but he feels more at peace on the football field.
The stands aren’t as close to the field as they are in a gym. It's easier to block out the outside noise and focus, truly, on what he wants to accomplish with each play.
Ragland is No. 4 on The Commercial Appeal’s Dandy Dozen, a collection of the top college football prospects in the Memphis area as picked by the newspaper. He’s ranked the No. 33 Class of 2023 player in Tennessee and No. 54 quarterback in the country. He has committed to Georgia State
His mother remembers when he told her he wanted to commit to Georgia State. It was right after the visit wrapped up and they had just gotten back to the car. Before Harris could even pull out of the parking spot, Ragland was sold on being a Panther.
“I was really sold on them and their belief in me,” Ragland said
That same serenity he feels between the hashes on a football field, he feels on the golf course as well. Though it’s become his latest hobby, his dad, has tried to show him the role golf can play in his life, too.
The importance of golfing
Golf has helped the relationship between Ragland and his dad to evolve while also giving him another perspective on life.
"I spent a lot of time on the golf course in college,” Ragland's dad Derron said. “I know the therapy it can be used for, if you use it in a good way.”
The two of them visit the driving range two to three times a week and Braylen just recently hit the golf course for the first time.
Being on the golf course is less about learning a new sport. It’s more about learning how to find ways to cope with life.
“It’s important to be involved in my kid’s life,” Ragland’s dad said. “I’m not raising an athlete, I’m raising a young man and trying to teach him how to become a man, a good citizen, good employee or a good entrepreneur, and a good Christian.”
What started out as a chance for Braylen to learn a new sport has morphed into an opportunity for dad and son to continue bonding.
“We have a great relationship,” Braylen said of bonding with his dad. “He’s probably my best friend."
Transferring from White Station to Bartlett
Along with new beginnings on the golf course, Braylen has began a new journey at Bartlett. If it were up to him, he would have stayed at White Station. But the uncertainty of the coaching situation forced him to make the decision to transfer schools.
And Braylen didn’t come in as the know-it-all, quarterback either. He came in ready to earn his position and respect with his new team.
Bartlett coach Lance Tucker made it clear to Braylen, if he wanted a chance to start, he was going to have to win in the locker room first.
DANDY DOZEN NO. 12: Mark Joseph led state in interceptions in 2021. That's just part of his story
"I told him that if he can’t win the locker room over, he can’t play for us,” Tucker recalled telling Braylen. “He just kind of smiled and said, ‘Coach, I got you.’”
Within hours, Ragland went from the stranger to the leader.
"He didn’t come in with his chest pumped out saying, ‘I’m Braylen and I’m here to be y’all's hero,’” Tucker said. “He came in, took a back seat and was the second team quarterback until he won the job.”
That comes from his upbringing. And it’s what’s going to help him win with Bartlett, too.
“Just having that attention and that ground about being humble and still wanting to help other people,” Derron added. “He wants to be able to do, and serve, and not just be about him.”
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: TSSAA football: Transfer Braylen Ragland is new Bartlett quarterback