The LSU Track & Field program was proud to welcome back one of its all-time greats as an assistant coach as former Tiger two-sport national champion Bennie Brazell joined the coaching staff as LSU's top men's sprints and hurdles assistant prior to the start of the 2012 season.
Brazell's addition paid immediate dividends in LSU's performance a year ago as the Tigers followed a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships with an impressive second-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships as they ended just two points shy of winning a national championship to wrap up a heralded 2012 campaign. The men also earned a strong second-place finish at the 2012 SEC Outdoor Championships held on their home track at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium.
The Tigers competing in the sprints, hurdles and relays accounted for 42 of the team's 75 points scored at the NCAA Championships between the NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor meets a year ago.
The highlight of the 2012 season came in the 4x100-meter relay final at the NCAA Championship when the Tigers captured their eighth national championship in the event. While running with a team of Barrett Nugent, Aaron Ernest, Keyth Talley and Shermund Allsop, the Tigers matched the seventh-fastest relay performance in collegiate history with a run of 38.38 seconds to dominate the field.
Nugent wrapped up his collegiate career in 2012 as the most decorated hurdler in the history of the LSU men's program with a pair of NCAA titles and four SEC titles to go along with 10 All-America honors in his four seasons in Baton Rouge. After breaking his own indoor school record in the 60 hurdles with a run of 7.55 to claim the NCAA Indoor bronze medal, Nugent captured his third-straight SEC crown in the 110 hurdles and ended his career with All-America honors during the outdoor season.
Nugent owns the distinction of being the only LSU Tiger to win three-straight SEC Outdoor titles in the 110-meter hurdles in the history of the SEC Outdoor Championships.
It was an NCAA Championship that also saw the emergence of Ernest as a rising star in the NCAA ranks as he claimed three All-America honors as a freshman, including a fifth-place finish in the 200 meters and eighth-place finish in the 100 meters in his NCAA Championships debut. Ernest, who clocked personal bests of 10.17 in the 100 meters and 20.53 in the 200 meters, later swept sprint silver medals and anchored Team USA to a gold medal in the sprint relay at the IAAF World Junior Championships held during the month of July in Barcelona, Spain.
LSU's 4x400-meter relay team also proved itself as an NCAA title contender in 2012 as the Tigers swept bronze medals in the event with their performance at the NCAA Championships.
After capturing the SEC Indoor title and taking home All-America honors with a third-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships, LSU's mile relay team added a bronze medal at the NCAA Outdoor Championships while running the third-fastest time in school history in the final. That's where the squad of Robert Simmons, Quincy Downing, Ade Alleyne-Forte and Riker Hylton ran 3 minutes, 1.21 seconds to take third place in the event and lead the Tigers to second place in the final team standings.
Both Alleyne-Forte (Trinidad & Tobago) and Hylton (Jamaica) followed the collegiate season by making their Olympics debut in London while running in the mile relay. Alleyne-Forte certainly made the most of his first Olympic Games as he led Trinidad & Tobago to a bronze medal in the relay as a third leg on the team that set a national record of 2:59.40 in the Olympic final.
A member of the program from 2002-05, Brazell helped the Tigers claim five NCAA relay titles while earning 14 All-America honors as one of the NCAA's leading 400-meter hurdlers during his four seasons in Baton Rouge. By earning 14 All-America accolades for his career, Brazell is the No. 2-ranked Tiger all-time behind only the 19 All-America honors won by Kelly Willie from 2003-06.
Brazell actually owns the unique distinction of being the university's first student-athlete to win national championships with two different sports teams during his LSU career.
In four seasons as a member of national championship football and track programs at LSU, Brazell became one of the school's most recognizable two-sport stars during his career that featured national titles in track and field outdoors in 2002 and indoors in 2004 and on the football field in 2003.
Brazell even represented the United States on an international stage during his junior season at LSU as he advanced to the Olympic final in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. In his Olympics debut, he finished in eighth place in the final at the centennial games.
"We're excited to have Bennie Brazell as a member of our staff as he will impact on our sprints and hurdles group day in and day out in our pursuit of SEC and NCAA championships," said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. "Bennie provides our team with tremendous knowledge and experience following an outstanding competitive career both on the track and on the football field.
"We also expect that Bennie will provide our program with great ability as a recruiter in building the kind of relationships that are so important to attract the very best athletes we can to LSU. That's especially true in recruiting the best athletes in the country who excel in both football and track who will be able to relate to Bennie's experience as an LSU alumnus."
A product of Westbury High School in Houston, Brazell made an immediate impact on the LSU Track & Field program as the nation's No. 1-ranked high school prospect in the 400-meter hurdles.
During his freshman season, Brazell scored eight points as the NCAA Outdoor runner-up in the 400-meter hurdles while breaking the school record in the event with a time of 48.80. He also anchored LSU to a national title in the 4x100-meter relay that ran the fourth-fastest time in NCAA history at 38.32, while also running the third leg on the Tigers' bronze-medal winning 4x400-meter relay team.
Brazell's 14 points helped led LSU to a national championship in its own backyard with the 2002 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships being held at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium.
Brazell helped guide LSU to a second NCAA team title at the onset of his junior season in 2004 with their victory at the NCAA Indoor Championships. With the Lady Tigers also winning the team championship, LSU made history as the first program to sweep both the men's and women's team titles at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Brazell certainly went out with a bang as a senior in 2005 at the NCAA Championships as he enjoyed performances in both the 400 hurdles and 4x400 relay that eclipsed previous collegiate records.
In the most exciting NCAA final in the 400-meter hurdles in NCAA Championships history, Brazell and Florida's Kerron Clement each shattered the collegiate record as Clement struck gold in 47.56 and Brazell took home the silver in 47.67, a time that remains LSU's school record in the event.
While Brazell came up just short of owning the collegiate record in the 400-meter hurdles with his second place to Clement in the national final, he would not be denied in the final of the 4x400-meter relay. That's where he ran a 44.8-second split on the third leg to set the collegiate record at 2:59.59 with Reggie Dardar (46.4), Kelly Willie (44.4) and Xavier Carter (44.0) in winning the NCAA crown.
The Houston native also enjoyed a successful career on the football field while appearing in 43 contests in his four seasons as a wide receiver and special teams standout. Brazell appeared in 11 games for the Tigers during their national championship season in 2003, including the 2004 Sugar Bowl.
Brazell concluded his football career at LSU with 17 catches for 341 yards and three touchdowns before being picked in the seventh round of the 2006 NFL Draft as the 231st overall pick by the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Brazell File
5-time NCAA Champion
14-time NCAA All-American
Collegiate Record Holder (4x400 Relay)
LSU School Record Holder (400 Hurdles, 4x400 Relay)
231st overall pick (7th Round) of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals
Member of LSU's 2002 NCAA Outdoor and 2004 NCAA Indoor championship teams on the track.
Member of LSU's 2003 national championship team on the football field.
Coaching Records at LSU
1 Olympic Medalist
2 World Junior Championships Medalists
4 NCAA Champion athletes winning 1 NCAA event title
5 SEC Champion athletes winning 2 SEC event titles
8 All-American athletes winning 13 All-America honors
8 All-SEC athletes winning 12 All-SEC honors