For years, Crystal Thurmond tried to get her son to eat his vegetables. And for years, he refused.
Then last year, Brandon Thurmond needed to make a change. Coming off an average football season at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the former Laney standout defensive end knew he needed to get in better shape entering his senior season.
So he started working out harder. And Thurmond finally listened to his mother, knocking back vegetables like grilled asparagus.
“At first, I didn’t like vegetables,” the 22-year-old Thurmond said. “But they’re good for your body.”
Down 25 pounds from last year, the 6-foot-2, 250-pound Thurmond is making the most of his svelte figure. He is a finalist for the prestigious Buck Buchanan Award. More importantly, Thurmond will try to help the Golden Lions win their second Southwest Athletic Conference title today – the first since 1966 – when Arkansas-Pine Bluff faces Jackson State at 1 p.m. on ESPNU.
“It’s all or nothing,” Thurmond said. “It’s going to be a lot of high intensity, a lot of pressure.”
Thurmond is the reigning SWAC Defensive Player of the Year after posting 16.5 sacks, which leads the Football Championship Subdivision. He’s also added 56 tackles, 22 tackles for loss and seven quarterback hurries. Last season, he had just 25 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
Now, Thurmond is up for the Buchanan Award, which goes to the outstanding defensive player in the FCS. The award will be presented Dec. 17.
“Just more dedication and focus,” Thurmond said of his turnaround, stating he worked out four hours a day during the summer. “I’m doing what I need to do to help my teammates.”
Thurmond, who is planning to graduate in the spring with a degree in industrial technology, is eyeing a potential spot in professional football. Soon, he’ll hire an agent. Then, he’ll work on getting a spot at the NFL Combine.
“A lot of blessings have been coming my way,” he said. “I’ve been praying and my church has been praying. I just give all my success to God.”