Southern Indiana Represented on Monday Night Football
We all know Jay Cutler has his roots in Southern Indiana every time the Chicago Bears take the field, but on Monday Night he was joined on the field by another Southern Indiana boy, tight end Ben Braunecker.
While browsing Twitter during Monday Night's game against the Vikings, I noticed a comment from Evansville Courier & Press reporter, Richard Gootee that caught my eye.
Curious, I did a quick Google search and found out that Braunecker played his high school ball at Forest Park in Ferdinand, Indiana. A school that didn't have a varsity football program until 2008.
After high school, Braunecker attended Harvard University where he studied molecular and cellular biology. The plan was to finish his degree next Spring, but after a 2015 football season where he caught 48 passes (eight for touchdowns) for 850 yards, which gained him both Associated Press and Walter Camp FCS All-American first-team honors.
A solid performance at the annual Combine in Indy had analysts predicting he would be a late-round pick. However, the draft came and went, and he found himself with no takers. He was invited to tryouts for the Texans, Cardinals, and Patriots in the Spring, but still no takers.
He was finally signed as a free agent over the summer by the Bears, and despite missing training camp with an ankle injury, he made the final 53-man roster just before the start of the regular season.
Until Monday Night, Braunecker had yet to record a reception with the Bears, until his fellow Hoosier and quarterback found him for an eight-yard catch deep in Vikings territory late in the second quarter.
Whether he'll have more opportunities to contribute is up in the air, but next time the Bears on TV, keep an eye open for number 84, and know there's Indiana blood running through those veins.