Editor’s note: Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Hiles, a top-ranked 2018 cornerback recruit who plays at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., is contributing a weekly first-person story to DieHards. Here is the 17th installment, as told to beat writer Erin Sorensen.
It’s hard to believe I only have a week and a half left of high school. Where does time go?
And graduating from high school is big for me and my family. My mom has 6 kids and every single one of them except for me so far is a high school graduate. That will be big for my mother that all of her kids got through 12 grades. That’s a big accomplishment for her.
It’s also a big accomplishment for me, as well. It was the last accomplishment my brother ever had before he passed away. That’s how I look at it now, and I try to put everything into his eyes.
My brother passed away when he was 17 years old. Knowing the last thing he did was graduate, everything from here going forward is a testament to him. I’m living his life for him. Everything that every happens to me – the first time I walk on a college campus, my first start, my first pick-6 – it’s not just for me. It’s for the both of us. It’s not just me anymore. I’m taking over what he left for me.
And I know he’s proud of me. My mom tells me every day that she’s proud of me, too. As a family, we’re not shy to show our love for one another. We know how limited our time with one another is. Life is so short, so we make sure that we tell each other every chance that we get how we feel about each other. Whether that’s a ‘good morning’ text to my mom, telling each other how much we love one another, or my mom telling us how special each moment we were born was, it’s important to us to show our love.
Seeing my mom smile means everything, too. I know everything she had done for me and my siblings – and she brought me into this world – so I am forever indebted to her.
I am ready to graduate. I’ve already felt like I’ve already been away at college. Leaving the house at 17 to go to IMG Academy, my mom and I already know what it’s like not to see each other every day. And through it, we’re even more appreciative of the time we have together.
She’s also been a vital part of helping me through the recruiting process. She has been a part of every one of my official visits this season and I couldn’t have done it without her. I don’t make a move without her.
As for my last official visits, she’ll be with me in Gainesville this weekend to see Florida. I originally thought about visiting earlier this season, but wasn’t sure at the time. After I decided not to pursue two other schools, I decided an official visit to Florida would be best.
I’m looking forward to finding out if I can see myself as a student-athlete there. I’m not going to a game, but I still want to see if I fit the surroundings. One of the biggest things for me is how comfortable I am in the city I could live in and with the people I will be coached and mentored by.
Florida was also on my radar because I’ve long admired the SEC and wanted to play in the conference. After Dan Mullen was hired, he called me about 10 days later. They asked if I wanted to come for an official visit and I said definitely. Florida had been a childhood dream school for me growing up. In fact, growing up I thought I would play in the SEC at either Florida or LSU.
And I am glad my mom will be there with me this weekend. It’s the last weekend before the dead period begins, so it will be good to see one final program before I start to make my decision.
Whatever I decide, I already know my mom will be there cheering me on in her gear and her custom jersey with ‘Bookie’s Mom’ on the back come my first college game day. And I’m excited for that and to continue honoring her no matter where I end up, because she’s worked so hard.
Everything now is for her and my brother.
Miss a week of Bookie’s senior season diary? Catch up here.