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 fifth 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 he has helped add to that proud tradition by coaching the Tigers to NCAA titles in the 4x400-meter relay during the 2014 indoor season and 2015 outdoor season since his return.
After nearly setting the indoor school record with a seasonal-best run of 3 minutes, 4.04 seconds in an All-SEC third-place finish at the 2014 SEC Indoor Championships, the Tigers were crowned national champions that season with their winning 3:04.54 in the national final to take the title ahead of Florida and Texas A&M at the NCAA Championships.
NCAA Indoor Champions Quincy Downing, Cyril Grayson and Vernon Norwood all returned for a title-winning performance during the 2015 outdoor season as they teamed with Fitzroy Dunkley to claim last year’s NCAA Outdoor crown in 3:01.96 to again strike gold ahead of the Gators.
Norwood was crowned the NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor Champion in the 400-meter dash to highlight a historic senior season in 2015. In his final season, Norwood became just the 14th sprinter in collegiate history to sweep NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor titles in the 400 meters (or 440 yards) in the same season while also anchoring the Tigers to the outdoor crown in the mile relay.
Norwood was certainly one of the most prolific sprinters in school history as he won four NCAA titles, eight All-America honors and nine All-SEC awards in just two seasons at LSU.
While emerging as one of the world’s top 400-meter sprinters after running a lifetime best of 44.44 at the LSU Alumni Gold last spring, Norwood followed the collegiate season by representing the United States at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing where he was crowned a World Champion as part of Team USA’s 4x400-meter relay team in his championship debut.
Brazell was one of the world’s leading 400-meter hurdlers throughout his own athletic career as an LSU Tiger, and he helped coach Downing to a pair of All-America honors in the event during his career in Baton Rouge. After finishing his junior season in 2014 as the NCAA Outdoor Bronze Medalist, Downing went out as an All-American in the 400 hurdles once again by finishing fourth nationally to cap his senior season in which he set a personal best of 49.63 in the event.
LSU’s senior-laden sprint squad a season ago also featured Aaron Ernest, who wrapped up his collegiate career in 2015 with three more All-America honors while reclaiming the SEC Indoor title in the 200-meter dash he first won as a sophomore in 2013. One of the most decorated LSU sprinters in recent memory, Ernest went out as an 11-time All-American and three-time SEC Champion from 2012-15.
While Ernest placed fifth nationally in his return appearance to the NCAA Outdoor final in the 200 meters, Tiger sophomore Tremayne Acy emerged as one of the NCAA’s stars of the future by placing fourth in the event with a career-best wind-aided run of 20.04 to claim his first career All-America honor in the event. Acy, the 2015 SEC Outdoor Bronze Medalist, also raced to a wind-legal best of 20.17 during the national semifinals en route to his first career NCAA finals appearance.
Joshua Thompson also earned All-America honors for the first time in his collegiate career last spring when he crossed the finish line in fourth place in the national final of the 110-meter hurdles while running a career-best wind-aided time of 13.34 in his final race as an LSU Tiger.
Thompson, Norwood, Acy and Ernest all teamed together to turn in another All-American performance for the Tigers in the 4x100-meter relay to close out the 2015 season as they followed their All-SEC second-place finish at the SEC Championships with a bronze-medal-winning third-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships while clocking a seasonal best of 38.62 in the final.
Their performance was instrumental in the Tigers taking home a fourth-place team trophy at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships for the second-straight season as the team scored 45 points in two days of competition at Oregon’s Hayward Field to wrap up the 2015 season.
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.
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.
The 2012 season also saw former Tigers Ade Alleyne-Forte (Trinidad & Tobago) and Riker Hylton (Jamaica) make their Olympics debut in London while running the mile relay for their countries. 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.
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
1 World Champion
2 World Junior Championships Medalists
9 NCAA Champion athletes winning 5 NCAA event title
8 SEC Champion athletes winning 5 SEC event titles
15 All-American athletes winning 56 All-America honors
18 All-SEC athletes winning 48 All-SEC honors