Hansen’s Hundred, # 31: Tedy Bruschi’s Motor Introduced him into the School Soccer Corridor of Fame | Nationwide
Three Things You May Not Know About Tedy Bruschi:
• After Bruschi’s senior season at Roseville High School, the hometown newspaper named Aaron McDonald Local Footballer of the Year. McDonald of Bakersfield High School is the father of UA All-American Point Guard Aari McDonald.
• Bruschi’s father, Tony Bruschi, was a football coach at Balboa High School and Poly High School in San Francisco, who named his second son after his father Theodorico.
• Bruschi’s only scholarship offers came from BYU, Washington State, San Jose State, and Arizona. Most of the day’s Pac-10 forces considered Bruschi too short – 6 feet 1 inches – to play on the defensive line. Bruschi turned down BYU’s offer to become an insider linebacker. The leading recruit of the 1991 Arizona class was considered lineman Warner Smith of San Manuel High School.
The first time I became aware of Bruschi was in Arizona’s Camp Cochise in mid-August 1991. One day, UA coach Dick Tomey walked down the cafeteria line for lunch and joined three reporters at a nearby table.
Someone asked which player caught Tomey’s attention during morning practice.
“Tedy Bruschi,” said Tomey. “He’s got an engine that just runs and goes. He’ll play instantly.”
Tedy Bruschi became a defensive force as he anchored Arizona’s “Desert Swarm” defenses in the mid-1990s.
In fact, two weeks later, Bruschi was listed as the first defensive lineman for Arizona’s season opener in Ohio State. But Bruschi’s neck suffered nerve damage and his college debut was postponed until Game 4 against Long Beach State. He got off the bench and made seven tackles.
Bruschi, who ranks 31st on our list of Tucson’s 100 Best Sports Characters for the Last 100 Years, is now in the College Football Hall of Fame. He was a two-time consensus All-American, set the NCAA career record for sacks (55), played in the NFL Pro Bowl and helped the New England Patriots win three Super Bowls.
If anyone saw this coming, or even getting close, it might be Tomey and his assistant coach Marc Lunsford who were hired to recruit the supposedly too-small, too-small lineman from Roseville, California.
When the Sacramento Bee newspaper published a report on Bruschi during the 1990 high school playoffs, Lunsford wrote that Lunsford had sent Bruschi a postcard in the summer of ’90 with a simple message:
“Be a wild cat and be a star.”
“The thing about Tedy and a lot of soccer players is that you can’t measure their hearts and their desires,” Tomey told me when Bruschi was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013. “The year we recruited Tedy we brought 63 players onto campus. They just wondered if he could play as hard at this level as often as he did in high school. He did it. He had one so much ball awareness. You can’t teach that. “
Arizona’s Tedy Bruschi makes a beeline for ASU quarterback Jake Plummer during the 1995 team rivalry game.
Bruschi became the face of Tomey’s “desert swarm” era, the personality of what was likely the leading defense in college football for three seasons, 1992-94. In the 1994 issue of Sports Illustrated that featured Arizona on the front cover – “Rock Solid,” he wrote – Bruschi was pictured inside a small scooter on campus.
It wasn’t a staged photo. For two years Bruschi traveled from class to class on a cheap scooter, a symbol of his footballing approach.
After becoming famous, Bruschi ditched the scooter, but not for a shiny new sports car his parents paid for or a loan based on potential NFL earnings. He started driving a dark blue 1967 Buick that his brother Tony had given him. It was the most famous car on campus.
Tedy Bruschi returned to Tucson in April to serve as a guest coach for the Wildcats spring game.
That was Bruschi, who gave Tucson as much as he took. He even married Heidi Bomberger, a Sahuaro High School graduate who stood out on the UA volleyball team.
Years later, when I asked Lunsford what he had seen in Bruschi that the top 25 programs hadn’t, Lunsford said, “Speed, football feel and balance. I went to one of his high school track meetings and he was the most coordinated shot putter and discus thrower on the field. He put all his energy into it. You could see how important that was to him. He was such a winner. “
Contact sports columnist Greg Hansen at 520-573-4362 or [email protected] On Twitter: @ ghansen711