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 now enters his fourth season coaching at his alma mater as his addition to the staff has paid immediate dividends for the Tigers with their performance at the SEC and NCAA Championships.
Brazell was himself part of five NCAA Champion relay teams during his collegiate career with the Tigers from 2002-05, and in 2014, he helped coach the Tigers to the NCAA Indoor crown in the 4x400-meter relay when Darrell Bush, Quincy Downing, Cyril Grayson and Vernon Norwood stormed to victory at the Albuquerque Convention Center a season ago.
After nearly setting the indoor school record with a seasonal-best run of 3 minutes, 4.04 seconds in an All-SEC bronze-medal-winning finish at the SEC Indoor Championships, the Tigers were crowned national champions with their winning time of 3:04.54 to take the title ahead of Florida and Texas A&M at the NCAA Championships to wrap up the 2014 indoor season.
LSU’s relay teams followed with an outstanding outdoor campaign in 2014 as the Tigers claimed All-SEC honors with a second-place finish in the 4x100 relay and a third-place finish in the 4x400 relay at the SEC Outdoor Championships before sweeping NCAA Outdoor bronze medals with their performance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The Tigers clocked seasonal bests of 38.65 seconds and 3:01.60 on the season while again featuring two of the nation’s premier relay teams.
Individually, Norwood and Downing were instrumental in leading the Tigers to a fourth-place team trophy at the 2014 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships while sweeping a pair of bronze medals in the 400 meters and 400 hurdles at the national meet.
Norwood followed his silver-medal-winning performance in the 400-meter final at the NCAA Indoor Championships by claiming the NCAA bronze medal in the event during the outdoor season while finishing the 2014 campaign with a lifetime personal best of 45.02. Downing emerged as one of the nation’s best in his first full season running the 400-meter hurdles, wrapping up the season as the NCAA Outdoor bronze medalist with a personal best of 49.97.
In Brazell’s first season in 2012, 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 were just two points shy of winning a national championship in his inaugural campaign. They followed in 2013 with another top-10 team finish nationally by taking seventh place at the NCAA Outdoor meet.
In two years, the Tigers competing in the sprints, hurdles and relays have accounted for 108 of the team’s 154 points scored at the NCAA Championships between the indoor and outdoor seasons.
The Tigers have also enjoyed great success at the SEC Championships since Brazell’s arrival with a strong second-place finish at the 2012 SEC Outdoor Championships held on their home track at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium in Baton Rouge.
Their 2012 season was highlighted by claiming their eighth national championship all-time in the 4x100-meter relay. 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 winning run of 38.38 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
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 later swept sprint silvers and anchored Team USA to a gold medal in the 4x100 relay with his efforts at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships held that summer in Barcelona, Spain.
Ernest added three more All-America honors during his sophomore season in 2013 with a sixth-place finish in the 200 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships before finishing in seventh place in the 100 meters and leading the Tigers to fourth place in the 4x100-meter relay in defense of their title at the NCAA Outdoor Championships that year. He also became an SEC Champion for the first time in his Tiger career as the SEC Indoor 200-meter champion and SEC Outdoor sprint relay champion in 2013.
One of the top young sprint stars in the United States, Ernest added a fourth-place finish nationally in the 200-meter final at the NCAA Outdoor Championships a year ago to secure an eighth All-American selection as an LSU Tiger. He has clocked personal bests of 6.69 in the 60 meters, 10.17 in the 100 meters and 20.53 indoors and 20.14 outdoors in the 200 meters during his collegiate career.
LSU’s 4x400-meter relay has also proven itself as an NCAA title contender in Brazell’s three years as an assistant coach after the Tigers swept bronze medals in the event with their performance at the NCAA Championships in his first season on head coach Dennis Shaver’s staff in 2012.
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 3:01.21 to earn 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.
LSU’s 4x400-meter relay team added a fifth-place finish indoors and fourth-place finish outdoors at the NCAA Championships to earn All-America honors once again in 2013.
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.
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
8 NCAA Champion athletes winning 2 NCAA event title
8 SEC Champion athletes winning 4 SEC event titles
13 All-American athletes winning 40 All-America honors
15 All-SEC athletes winning 30 All-SEC honors