Inside the rapid rise of 2020 Damascus defensive end Bryan Bresee

Bryan Bresee tries to muscle his way into the backfield during practice on Wednesday, August 23 at Damascus High School. Photo by Kyle McFadden/MSA.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on June 26 and changes have been made to it since then.

One year ago, Bryan Bresee had just wrapped up middle school formalities and prepared to set out for the high school venture. A spot on the Urbana High School varsity football squad that he soon earned wasn’t in the forefront. Instead, it was exploring for a voice in a new environment; the inevitable search from eighth grade to ninth. 

Fast forward to present day, and Bresee — with a varsity season under his belt — has morphed from an eighth grader with a short résumé into the top recruit in the Class of 2020. The Class of 2020 defensive end, who now attends Damascus High, currently holds 16 Division I offers, including Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.

“Everything is still kind of new to me right now,” Bresee said. “I didn’t think [it would happen this fast]. Right after the season, there was really nothing going on. There’s no coaches in the school or anything. Then, all of a sudden, it just took off. I wasn’t expecting it. … I always think I’m going to be better than who I go against, that’s my motto. You have to think like that. For it to actually be happening is kind of crazy.”

The first domino tipped when Maryland offered the 6-foot-5, 265-pound end on February 3, something that “came out of nowhere” in the words of Bresee. At the time, the Urbana High football program was without a varsity football head coach, as Dave Mencarini resigned and latched on with the University of Maryland football staff to become the director of player personnel.

Eleven days later, Purdue provided his second Power 5 offer, and eleven days after that, Penn State became his third.

“It just kind of took off,” Bresee said. “In the next three to four months, I had 16 offers. It’s been crazy. … Once I had the first offer, other schools started looking at my tape, and that kind of helped out. After the first offer, more schools started taking me seriously I guess.”

In the aftermath of Mencarini’s resignation, Bresee sought to transfer. St. John’s College, a private WCAC power in D.C., headed the list, but Bresee chose Damascus instead, a public school in Montgomery County, based off his family’s tightknit relationship with the coaching staff. 

He’ll join a unit that’s won 28 straight games, appeared in three state title games and won back-to-back championships in 2015 and 2016. 

“I’m just ready to get started, win a state title,” Bresee said.

This, the rapid recruiting rise, isn’t an unfamiliar trend for Bresee. He’s always been a step or two ahead of his class, performance and physically. It also helps he comes from an athletic-driven family. His father played football at James Madison University, his mother played basketball at Shippensburg University, and his sister, Kendall Bresee, currently plays basketball at George Washington University.

Before last summer, Bresee connected with 10-year NFL veteran Duane Clemons, who compiled 49.5 sacks in his tenures with the Bengals, Chiefs and Vikings.

Bresee’s sister played on an AAU team coached by a college friend of Clemons, and when Clemons moved to the Frederick area to launch his own training program, Bresee wanted in.

“He’s just taught me a lot. I know the base, but he’s critiquing me with all the little things I need,” Bresee said. “I’ve been training a lot, just trying not to let this get to my head.”

Bresee has also worked with local trainer with Patrick Reeves, and the results have paid dividends. In April at the D.C. regional Nike Opening, Bresee posted the second best composite rating for his class, and his 4.21 shuttle — a series of cone drills testing the athlete’s lateral quickness and explosion in short areas — led all defensive linemen. On a national scale, his shuttle time is the third fastest for his position.

“Just working hard,” Bresee said. 

A highlight of Bresee’s summer is participating in Ohio State’s prospect camp, where he struck up a 15-minute, one-on-one conversation with Buckeyes’ coach Urban Meyer, and left the day with an offer. 

“We talked for like 10 or 15 minutes, and then they offered me,” Bresee said. “Just crazy. … He’s really honest about everything and I love that.”

Bresee also mulls offers from Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. He also said there’s no front-runner or particular dream school.

“Growing up, I watched college football, but I never had a favorite team,” Bresee said. “It’ll be based on the relationship I grow with the coaches, and how I think I fit into their system. I have no dream school right now. … But it’s exciting, seeing all these schools. Everywhere is cool, but getting to decide where I want to go now, it’s exciting.”

Bresee talked of Maryland football’s “The Movement,” a trend of DMV athletes joining forces with their backyard institution in College Park. For the rising sophomore, that entails a reunion with Mencarini, his longtime mentor and high school coach.

“Just having the option to do that is really cool,” Bresee said. “I’ve had a relationship with Coach Mac now for a long time. I’ve known him forever. So that’s already a relationship I have with somebody, and I’m starting to build a relationship with him.”

Bresee has also received interest from Clemson and Alabama. He recently attended Clemson’s camp and will attend Alabama’s camp on July 16. Through it all, one thing will always stay constant.

“I haven’t changed my mindset,” Bresee said. “My work ethic, it stays the same. There’s no point in me stopping now.”

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About Kyle McFadden 307 Articles
Kyle McFadden is a graduate from Linganore High School's Class of 2014, a sports junkie and general news-hound. He got his start as a sports writer in January 2014 for Linganore's student-run newspaper The Lance, where he wrote 13 articles. McFadden then launched his own blog in October 2014 called The Beltway Dispatch covering collegiate, local high school and professional sports. Formally known as The Beltway Dispatch, McFadden and Evan Engelhard merged respective platforms in June 2015 to make what is now Maryland Sports Access. With baseball, basketball and golf experience, McFadden brings ample knowledge to the helm of MSA. McFadden covers a wide variety of sports in football, baseball, basketball, golf, hockey, lacrosse, soccer and specializes in the collegiate and high school levels. McFadden volunteers his time at Damascus Road Community Church -- serving as a mentor to the youth, basketball coach at the varsity and junior varsity levels, and leads a small group of high school sophomores every Wednesday night. Although he's only been around journalism since January 2014, he's a high school sports reporter for The Baltimore Sun and freelancer for The Frederick News-Post. McFadden's work has also appeared in DMV newspapers The Aegis, The Capital Gazette, The Daily Times (Delmarva Now), The Hometown Observer, Howard County Times, Germantown Pulse and The Towson Times. He's also won two Mike Powell Excellence in Journalism awards and has appeared on The Best of SNO, which showcases top student work of high school and college journalists. McFadden currently studies at Frederick Community College and plans to transfer to the University of Maryland in the fall of 2018 to work on a bachelor's degree in journalism with aspirations to be a national college basketball writer.
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