Favorite athlete: Brian Urlacher because he was someone I could look up to as a young man as I played LB myself. I love his style of play and the way he hits.
Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles! Go Birds!
Favorite memory: This year in football competing against North Penn and going into double OT. We lost, but they were the top team in the district and everyone was doubting our team. Great experience and memory.
Most embarrassing memory in sports: Coach Bedesem made me give a speech about trench foot during practice to the whole team. This happend my junior year.
Music on mobile device: Hip-hop, rap, country, some rock
Future plans: Attend Ohio State or Penn State. Major in Business doing marketing and minor in something that involves Fitness
Words to live by: “When you feel like quitting, remember why you started.”
One goal before turning 30: Open up my own gym
One thing people don’t know about me: I play the acoustic guitar
By Ed Morrone
Over the course of his high school football career, Bradley Kraut morphed into Council Rock South’s very own Swiss Army knife.
In four years, Kraut had two separate stints as South’s starting quarterback, while also having plays designed for him as a member of the team’s offensive backfield. On defense, he tended to be entrenched at linebacker, but also had experience playing defensive end during his middle school days. However, Kraut’s most impressive adaptation on the gridiron came this past August during training camp when teammate Nick Gallo’s older brother, Eric, who played on the offensive line at Virginia Tech and was serving as an assistant for South, recommended that Kraut give O-line a shot.
Kraut, who stands at 5-foot-6 and weights 195 lbs., eagerly accepted the challenge. What was he going to do, say no?
“Eric was a three-year starter in college and was helping us out and he just said to me, ‘Hey, Kraut, why don’t you come play some offensive line?’” Kraut recalled. “I just thought, why not? I get to learn from someone who played at Virginia Tech, so I went. I ended up starting every game at guard and linebacker for us.
“On the O-line, you don’t always have to kill the guy in front of you; it’s more about positioning, and that’s where I thought I did very well since I was quicker than most defensive linemen. I was more athletic than them too, so I really enjoyed it.”
Kraut’s affinity for the offensive line started when he was five years old when he got his first taste of flag football. At that age, linemen are just supposed to stand stationary, but Kraut always enjoyed doing things in a different, unconventional manner, so he decided to try things his way.
“I shoved a kid to the ground, and from that moment on my dad signed me up for tackle football,” he said with a laugh.
Kraut played for the Northampton Indians from the ages of 6 through 12, mostly playing running back and defensive end until eighth grade, when he had the opportunity to play some quarterback. He entered South as a freshman, played a few games under center before getting a concussion and being relegated to running back and linebacker upon his return.
He won the varsity quarterback job sophomore year, but after tough games against Father Judge and CB West, Kraut shifted back to running back for six games before “barely seeing the field” in the final four contests. He was still firmly entrenched as one of South’s top linebackers, but Kraut entered his crucial senior season as a man without a defined offensive position.
The surprising move to offensive line was the best thing to happen for both Kraut and South. Kraut became an All-SOL selection on both sides of the ball, and now that he no longer had to worry about pinballing around the field, he settled into his established positions and got locked in. The Golden Hawks responded accordingly as a team, knocking off CB West in double overtime, handing Truman its only regular season loss and taking North Penn, the top 6A team in District One, to overtime before falling just short.
Kraut and company ended up succumbing to Truman in the first round of districts, but the season was a success for South, which made the playoffs for just the third time in school history and Kraut’s first as a member of the varsity program.
There was clearly a change in culture within the program, and Kraut, as eloquent and thoughtful as he is loquacious, led the charge from the players’ side. While many high school kids tend to eschew vocal leading in favor or leading by example, Kraut had no such reservations.
“This season was possible because of strong senior leadership,” he said. “By senior year, many of us had been playing together for years. We’ve always been extremely tight and willing to put in the work. We went to (head) Coach (Vince) Bedesem and told him we had new ideas for practice, gameday rituals, and he was so open-minded and let us do our thing. That culture change helped transform our season.
“Our senior class, we really cared. It didn’t matter if we had 30 players and the other team had 300, our mindset was that we could beat them. We started 4-1 despite having injuries and only 30 guys, and even though we didn’t have a great second half to our season and lost to Truman, we still made it to the playoffs. That started with the senior class, and I hope the younger kids noticed and ride that into the future.”
Kraut’s importance to the team stretched beyond just his football ability on the field. He’s a co-captain and was the recipient of the Council Rock South football program’s 3D Award, an indication that he is universally respected by coaches and teammates alike.
“I just love the sport,” Kraut said. “My vocal nature came from my heart every day. I love playing this game and I would do anything for my teammates. I hope the younger guys looked up to me. I always tried to rally the troops. I would tell them, ‘When you feel like quitting, remember why you started.’
“That personified our whole season. It comes from my parents and the way I was raised. They taught me manners, the importance of work ethic and the right way to talk to people. If you work hard, good things will happen.”
Bedesem, Kraut’s head coach, certainly noticed the strides the program took when the seniors stepped up and decided that this season would be different.
“When coaches talk about kids who are one of a kind, he definitely is one of the few that qualifies as one of those,” Bedesem said. “He’s an energetic young man, very well-spoken and has a perspective on life that’s a lot different than your typical 17- or 18-year-old. When it comes to football, he’s a sponge. He wants to know the ‘whys,’ and that transitions into his life. Bradley the human being is what makes Bradley the student, Bradley the community leader and Bradley the football co-captain.
“He’s a hustler, always willing to work. He really helped stir this season on and gave a good B12 shot to the program in terms of how things are done right. Bradley and I had instant chemistry. He lives a larger-than-life persona, but in a good way rather than an egotistical one. Just a very humble young man always striving for excellence, and that will be a tough void to fill next season. Bradley not only set the bar, but he made the mold and broke it too.”
Bedesem mentioned Kraut the student, and the senior brought the thunder in the classroom the same way he did on the football field. Kraut holds a 4.0 GPA, an indicator that he takes his studies very seriously. Perhaps even more impressive is the time he puts in there, too. As Kraut explained, he very rarely masters an academic concept immediately; rather, he has to repeat the exercise over and over until he builds up enough muscle memory in his brain and it becomes more routine. If getting to this point means spending a Friday night at home studying instead of being out with friends, so be it. Kraut knows it will all be worth it in the long run.
“In order to succeed, you have to give up some things that you enjoy,” he said. “That mentality has really helped me in the process.”
As for college, Kraut is down to two schools in Big Ten country: Penn State and Ohio State. He’s already been accepted to Penn State’s main campus and is waiting to hear back from Columbus. In talking to Kraut, one gets the impression he seems to be leaning toward Penn State, mainly because he already has friends at the school, and Happy Valley is known for its strong business program. He’d like to major in business marketing with a minor in something fitness-related. Kraut said he’d like to open his own gym one day if he’s successful in business, and he’s already started his own fitness account on Instagram.
With that being said, the unknown of Ohio State also is exciting. It could come down to scholarship money should he gain admission to Ohio State, but either way, Kraut knows he’s going to end up at a world class university. He put in the required work and will enjoy the fruits of his labor somewhere come fall.
Off the field, Kraut pretty much lives in the gym. Ever since he transformed his body with regular exercise and clean eating, fitness has become his favorite hobby. Kraut does like to play the acoustic guitar, and said he’d love to travel more in the future, having already visited South Africa and Italy.
“I’d love to get to Israel one day … and Hawaii,” he said.
With Penn State and Ohio State two of the biggest college football programs in America, Kraut is prepared to put his competitive football days behind him and focus on what’s next. He’ll have college classes to worry about, and maybe he’ll join a fraternity, he said. Either way, even with football in his rearview mirror, he’ll have a reservoir of memories to draw from whenever he finds himself missing it.
“The bonds I made with Coach Vince and my teammates, they’ll definitely be in my life forever,” Kraut said. “I learned so many life lessons from them, and these last four years were about so much more than just playing football.”