New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is calling out audibles and watching the defense line up. Trash talk is flying back and forth between linemen. He drops back in the pocket with perfect steps, scanning the secondary for open receivers. He whips a tight spiral 20 yards, and the ball is caught by first grader Milton Braasch.
Now a sophomore, Braasch has grown up in a family situation that has given him a large advantage in his football career: his cousin is Ryan Fitzpatrick, the starting quarterback for the New York Jets.
Through the years, Braasch has been a smart, go-getting player in every sport he played, including soccer, lacrosse, basketball and football. When a coach needed something done, they would put him in to do the job right. This was especially true when it came to football. His love for the game, mixed with his strength, agility and aggressiveness created an excellent player.
“Milton definitely has a passion for the game,” said Dick Hall, Braasch’s elementary school coach. “Even in flag football, he played like it was tackle. He was a very intense player.”
The inspiration from his cousin’s success feeds Braasch’s desire to become a better player. For example, the weightlifting records set by the Fitzpatrick brothers gives him something to work towards and eventually beat.
Another benefit to having a pro cousin is Braasch having the chance to meet big name players, who were once great players on their high school teams.
“Because of the people I’ve met through Ryan that play in the NFL, I always assumed that they were on Varsity as freshman, so I’d want to achieve what they achieved,” said Braasch. “It makes me want to work that much harder.”
Having the ability to work with and watch someone who is playing at the top of their game gives Braasch an even higher goal set for himself. Since he was five years old, Braasch has been watching his cousin play in the NFL. He says Fitzpatrick’s success drives Braasch to become a player who could someday reach that level.
Braasch has utilized his inspiration from the success of his cousin to strengthen his love for the game and better his motivation to become a top tier player. Going into his freshman year, he was invited by Coach Delaney to attend the varsity summer camps and play in summer scrimmages. Once the season started, Braasch was in a rotation for middle linebacker, and started on special teams.
Going through his childhood and feasting his eyes on the talent of his cousin, Braasch has grasped the work ethic of Fitzpatrick. This season, Braasch is the starting outside linebacker on Varsity, along with junior Eli McDonald. Every stop made and every turnover forced, Milton seems to be involved in.