University of Miami receiver and punt returner Braxton Berrios stands only 5-8 5/8 inches and weighs 180, but he has been a huge presence during his University of Miami football career— on and off the field.
It took longer than many expected, but on Saturday, Berrios realized his lifelong dream when he was drafted 36th in the sixth round — 210th overall— by the New England Patriots, the organization nearly everyone imagined him representing.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
"It's OK, I'm used to this,'' Berrios tweeted at about 4 p.m. during the sixth round, when he still hadn't been chosen.
That all changed just after 5 p.m., when Twitter erupted with amazement and glee.
"I'M A PATRIOT BABY!!!!! #PATSNATION,'' Berrios posted on Twitter.
"Might be the most perfect pick of the draft #Patriots,'' tweeted former longtime NFL executive Gil Brandt, of NFL. com.
Berrios, 22, from Raleigh, North Carolina, had an exemplary season in every aspect. After starting only seven games and totaling 496 yards receiving his first three seasons, he started 13 games in 2017, leading the Hurricanes in receptions (55), receiving yards (679) and touchdowns (9).
"Obviously, in college, especially this last year, I played primarily in slot,'' Berrios told WQAM recently, noting that he nonetheless tries to avoid the constant comparisons to former Patriots star receiver Wes Welker, who was undrafted, is about the same size as Berrios and among his many accolades, led the NFL in receptions for three seasons. "But I did line up at boundary. I did line up outside at Z, so I've done other things. ...Naturally, I am a slot. But there's nothing to say I can't go play outside at some point in time.''
Berrios also is known as one of the most steady punt-return specialists in the nation, having caught 13 punts for 207 yards, a 15.9-yards-per-return average. Had Berrios fielded only three more punts this past season, he would have fulfilled the minimum requirement of 1.2 fielded punts per game to be included in the NCAA statistics among the top three returners in the nation.
And Berrios is fast. He ran between a 4.3 and 4.4 on UM Pro Day in late March at the Miami Dolphins practice facility in Davie.
Berrios said of the draft process that day: "It's crazy how fast it goes. I have no anxiety about it. When I get that call, wherever I go it's going to be a fun time."
Berrios isn’t just gifted as a player. He was one of 13 finalists for the 2017 William V. Campbell Trophy that recognizes the best football scholar-athletes in the nation. A finance & entrepreneurship major, he was the valedictorian in the UM business school.
His pinned tweet since Oct. 31, 2017 is a GIF of him throwing up the U in slow motion:“Don’t you ever disrespect it,'' he wrote.
And this has been is his social media profile: “All I have is hard work and if you out-work me, you’re one hell of a man.’’
Berrios' father, a former Miami Southridge High all-state soccer player, said this week that the family rented a house to spend the weekend watching the draft in South Miami. "Braxton is extremely excited,'' he said. "When it happens, I'll hug him and probably cry with him for a minute. At the end of the day, when you see your kid fullfill a longtime dream it's tremendous pride for everyone.
"No one ever doubts the fact that Braxton has the drive and passion to do whatever he puts his mind to. He's never written a goal he hasn't achieved, and one of them was to play in the NFL.''