IN FOCUS: Nick Brossette
Digital Media Reporter
With 45 seconds left in the first quarter of his 36th game as a Tiger, Brossette raced 50 yards to put his team ahead 10-3, giving the Tigers a lead they would not relinquish in a 33-17 win over No. 8 Miami to start the 2018 season. His first trip to the end zone since the 141 he made over his last four years at University High School on LSU’s campus – a figure that still stands as a Louisiana high school state record – the score showcased the primary weapon in Brossette’s arsenal: his patience.
At the snap of the ball, all 10 of Brossette’s teammates began blocking before he even moved an inch. As the Miami defenders and LSU blockers collided, Brossette stood still as a statue, waiting for the hole to open, the last man to move on the field.
Thanks to his teammates, that hole appeared, a large gap carved out by an offensive line executing its job to perfection. Thanks to the other tools in Brossette’s skill set – his superb vision, his ability to cut crisply and explode into space, and enough speed to outrun one of the fastest defenses in the country – he housed it, seeing just one thing the entire sprint, a long-awaited sight for the sorest of eyes.
“The goal line,” he says. “I just wanted to get in. I was so shocked. I was speechless.”
That’s because the journey to the end zone took far longer than the 10 seconds that ticked off the clock.
FOR THREE SEASONS at LSU, Brossette waited patiently behind a stable of future pros at running back. He tallied 306 yards over those three seasons, getting most of his snaps on special teams while buried on the depth chart behind the likes of Leonard Fournette, Derrius Guice, and Darrel Williams, all of whom are now NFL backs.
He also battled injury and heartbreak. A torn ACL cut his freshman season short, and a fumble in the loss to Troy in 2017, the lone start of his career, weighed heavily on him in the days after the game.
“I was able to wipe it out,” Brossette says. “When it first happened, yeah, it was difficult.”
The obstacles that made Brossette's path back to the end zone so difficult began before he even graduated from high school. His brother, Mendel Esnault, passed away in April 2015, the end of Brossette’s senior year at U-High. This, while his mother, Rita, was battling cancer.
On that Sunday in Arlington, Rita watched from the stands at AT&T Stadium as her son enjoyed a career night: 22 carries, 125 yards, and two touchdowns.
Afterward, Nick – who has dedicated his senior season to his brother – and LSU coach Ed Orgeron’s wife, Kelly, grinned ear to ear while waving Rita’s way from the field.
“You gotta have your family support you,” Brossette says. “That’s what my family was doing. I had a lot of people calling me, telling me I was going to have a great season. I have a lot of people believing in me.”
That includes Orgeron. He remembers several other Tigers who waited until their senior years to shine before moving on to successful NFL careers, players who paid their dues as backups and on special teams before breaking out in their final seasons.
“All those guys, it was one year,” Brossette says. “Most of those guys were on special teams earlier in their careers. Then they had a breakout season their last year. Now they are doing really well in the league. Just looking at those guys, they motivate me.”
IN FALL CAMP, Brossette said he was ready to “shock a lot of people this year." Through 10 games, his 11 rushing touchdowns rank second in the SEC, and his 79.2 yards per game rank seventh.
“I spoke it into existence,” he says. “I just had a lot of confidence about myself.”
If Brossette’s first touchdown of his career was three years of patience rewarded, his latest score perfectly sums up a season he will never forget.
In the second quarter of LSU’s 24-17 win at Arkansas, Brossette took a handoff at the 12 yard line, only to be met by a wall of Razorback defenders for what should’ve been a tackle to set up third down.
Instead, a swarm of LSU blockers piled on behind Brossette, who never stopped churning his legs. Together, the team pushed Brossette into the end zone for his 11th score of the season.
“This team is a selfless team,” Brossette says. “We’re playing for one another, we’re playing for Coach O, and we’re playing for this state. We’re just out here having fun.”
No one, perhaps, is having more fun than Brossette. It took three years and many obstacles to get to this point.
He’d be the first to tell you: the wait was worth it.
“I just knew,” he says, “I had to be patient.”