Alabama Football Recruiting: 2020 Signee 5-Star Chris Braswell

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Alabama football signed one of the nation’s elite players in St. Frances Academy, weakside defensive end and 5-Star, Chris Braswell.

Another elite football player out of St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, MD joined Alabama football Wednesday morning. He is 5-Star, weakside defensive end, Chris Braswell.

The Alabama football program and St. Frances Academy have some history. Going back to the 2018 Crimson Tide signing class, Tide coaches have signed three previous St. Frances players. Chris Braswell becomes the fourth. Later on Wednesday, a fifth former St. Frances player, Traeshon Holden is expected to also sign with the Crimson Tide.

The highest rated of those recruits was the  No. 4 player in the 2018 class, Eyabi Anoma. Eyabi and Alabama football proved to not be a good mix. Following Anoma to Tuscaloosa were linebacker, Shane Lee and offensive lineman, Darrian Dalcourt.

In terms of recruit rankings there was not much separation between Anoma at No. 4 overall and Braswell at No. 17. Though rated as the No. 1 weakside defensive end in the 2018 class, Braswell will begin his Crimson Tide career as an edge rush specialist who can play outside linebacker.

He is big already at 6-feet-3 and a now projected 230 pounds. He is also quick and fast and likely to be as nearly quick and fast with another 30 pounds of muscle. One attribute that should never be questioned in Chris Braswell is toughness.

Those who know the St. Frances Academy story understand for its football players, toughness on the football field is one of their lives’ smaller challenges. In the summer of 2018, ESPN writer, Gene Wojciechowski wrote about St. Frances and its coach, Biff Poggi. Poggi, a former player for Jackie Sherrill at Pitt, achieved considerable wealth in the financial industry. He is the St. Frances Head Coach, spending millions of his own dollars to build the best high school football program in the nation.

In a few short years, Poggi has come close to achieving that goal. As the ESPN story recounts, it has not been easy. As the Wojciechowski story also explains, what St. Frances and Poggi have accomplished is far more than football success.

St. Frances was founded in 1828 and was

"located in a poor neighborhood to serve the poor, and it has stayed true to that ideal.St. Frances is mostly surrounded by abandoned and burned-out row houses. Drug dealers use some of the houses as distribution centers. Broken beer bottles line the street where the football team runs sprints for winter and spring conditioning. Discarded plastic syringe covers dot the sidewalk. Bullet holes have pierced the stained-glass windows of the 100-year-old chapel.School principal Curtis Turner says it is a neighborhood “protected by God.” A wall surrounds the “campus,” but its iron gates are never locked."

Biff Poggi is giving God a strong helping hand. The football team has a no-cut policy. Nearly half of the school’s enrollment of 180 students play football. Most of them come from lives of poverty and danger.

"The school has nearly a 100 percent graduation rate, and more than 95 percent of the graduates go on to college, with 83 percent of them earning at least a bachelor’s degree. Seventy-five percent of those students are the first in their families to attend college.“Our kids come in here with burdens … but they always seem to walk out with hope,” Principal Curtis Turner says."

Chris Braswell is one of those kids. He is both athletically blessed and luckier than most. His father’s small business provided enough money to move the family out of the city and to the Baltimore suburbs. No matter how great Chris becomes as a college football player, his father has made it clear. Chris’ primary purpose in college is getting a degree.

Chris Braswell is primed for success in Tuscaloosa, AL. What a story it will be when he achieves it.