Cody Bradford is blessed beyond belief to know at a young age what he wants to do with his life.
The constant fog of uncertainty that engulfs most teenagers is not a factor for this Flowery Branch High senior.
He loves to play football.
And, since age 10, Bradford knew that he wanted to pursue a career in civil engineering — possibly designing buildings and orchestrating construction job sites.
On Wednesday, the 255-pound offensive lineman will see both paths mesh as he signs a football scholarship with Army.
“I’m so excited right now to have this opportunity,” said Bradford, who will spend his first year at the Army Prep School. “I have a chance to achieve my dreams, playing college football, getting a great education and serve our country.”
Bradford’s offensive line teammate at Flowery Branch, Daniel Tulk, will be signing to play at Mercer University.
The biggest moment in the recruiting process, for Bradford, one conducted completely virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, was when he got the offer from Army on Jan. 12.
One of the first calls Cody made was to his father, Jason, who was overcome with joy to know the offer was on the table.
“This is absolutely amazing and I couldn’t be any more proud of my son,” Cody’s father said.
Cody’s mother, Cheryl, was justifiably concerned about the distance from home and naturally had concerns about her son eventually being shipped off to overseas combat, but was satisfied with Cody’s offer from Army after numerous opportunities to speak with Black Knights offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Brent Davis.
“Cody is so ambitious,” Cheryl Bradford said. “As a mother, it worries me that he will be so far away from home, but he’ll do great and do everything it takes to be successful.”
With the commitment to Army, Bradford is also taking on the responsibility of five years of military service after he graduates.
Despite the late offer, Bradford was always in regular communication with coaches and staff with Army.
Bradford grew to know well former Army offensive lineman Cooper Simpson, a 2020 graduate assistant and Buford High graduate, a connection that remained strong during the most recent football season.
As a senior, Bradford remained interested in Army and was assured that he was high on their recruiting board, but didn’t know it was solid until the official offer came from Davis last month.
After talking it over with his family, Cody decided to commit on January 21.
Bradford was a three-year starter at right tackle in high school, but will move inside on the offensive line once he gets to West Point.
He said the one-year acclimation period at the Prep School will be beneficial from an academic and conditioning standpoint.
“Cody’s been a leader for us on the offensive line,” Flowery Branch offensive line coach Chris Warbington said. “He’s a student of the game, wants to play and works his butt off to make everyone better.”
Warbington came to Flowery Branch four years ago from Buford, where he coached Simpson, who completed his playing career at Army in 2019, and Black Knights junior offensive lineman Dean Powell.
Bradford was a sophomore when he became a starter on the Falcons’ offensive line. The 6-foot, 1-inch lineman vividly remembers hearing from Warbington that he would be making his first start against top-ranked Blessed Trinity in 2018.
As a three-year starter, Bradford said he was only responsible for five quarterback sacks.
Warbington said one of the things that stood out early about Bradford was his maturity.
“When Cody was a sophomore, he expressed interest in going to Army, if he had the chance,” Warbington said. “Cody’s a great kid, works hard and loves to learn.”
Even with a great playing opportunity to play at Army, academics were the biggest filter for which schools Bradford looked at playing in college.
“Schools that didn’t have the civil engineering program, it was a ‘no’ right away from Cody,” his mother said.
Bradford grew up around construction job sites with his father.
His grandfather, Jerome Bradford, owns his own civil engineering business.
“I think after college, I want to design the three-dimension models for construction job sites,” said Bradford, who carries a 3.6 GPA.
It’s a job that fits Cody well.
He likes to be outdoors and doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty.
Cody said he started tagging along at about age 7 or 8 with his father to job sites where Jason was working.
Bradford, who is also an avid outdoorsman, enjoying being at his father’s side on the bobcat or driving the dump truck.
Those early experiences to see building projects come to fruition, plus a propensity to do well in math, made a career in civil engineering a natural fit.
“Cody’s the kind of person who always has to be doing something,” his mother said.