Iowa State tight end Ernst Brun Jr. (84) celebrates with teammates after they beat TCU 37-23 winning their NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
It might not seem likely to his Iowa State teammates and coaches, but Ernst Brun was once an all-county punter in high school.
The Shiloh grad led Gwinnett in punting during a 2008 season that saw him play that position, kicker, linebacker, tight end and quarterback for the Generals. Though he grew into a top football player, his early athletic success in soccer led to his punting prowess.
"I do kind of tell them I'm a good punter," Brun said. "We've got a good punter but I'm trying to be the backup punter. They haven't seen me punt yet. I keep trying to tell them, though."
Brun's other skills, as the Cyclones' starting tight end, are more valuable.
The redshirt junior has 22 catches for 228 yards and five touchdowns in his first season as an Iowa State contributor.
"I've been working hard and it's paying off in games, but I still have a lot of improving to be done," Brun said.
Brun signed with Iowa State after a solid two-year career at Mount San Antonio Community College, where he earned California Community College Football Coaches Association All-American honors. He caught 65 passes for 840 yards and eight TDs in his two JUCO seasons, which led to his signing with Iowa State.
But he was predominantly an outside receiver at Mount San Antonio and as he explains it, was a poor blocker. That led to a redshirt his first season at Iowa State, which saw the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder bulk up to his current 247 pounds, a big gain over his 200-pound high school playing weight.
Now he has the skills, and the mass, necessary to be a force as a blocker, too.
"People at Shiloh probably wouldn't recognize me," said Brun, who turns 22 Dec. 4. "I played basketball too in high school, so I was always a little skinnier."
His current breakout season isn't over yet.
Iowa State concluded its regular season Friday vs. West Virginia, but the Cyclones already have their six wins needed for bowl eligibility. Brun hopes to finish this season on a good note, then continue improving as a senior in 2013 so he can reach his goal of playing in the NFL.
"My mindset is to always tell myself that I'm going pro," Brun said. "I came here to get my education, but I've put a lot of effort into football as well. If I've put in this much work, I may as well go for it. I don't see why I can't. I have the ability, the stature and the work ethic to do it."
Heinicke named league's top player
The news wasn't surprising, but Collins Hill grad Taylor Heinicke was officially named the Colonial Athletic Association offensive player of the year this week.
The Old Dominion quarterback leads the nation with 4,158 passing yards (378 per game), 35 touchdown passes and total offense (412.3 yards per game). He also has rushed for eight scores. His season also included NCAA records of 730 passing yards and 791 total yards in the Monarchs' 64-61 win over New Hampshire on Sept. 22.
Old Dominion (10-1) is a No. 4 national seed for the upcoming FCS playoffs and has a bye this weekend. It opens the playoffs Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. vs. the Bethune-Cookman/Coastal Carolina winner.
Gwinnett grads about on SoCon teams
Six Gwinnett products earned spots on the All-Southern Conference Teams, one voted on by the media and the other by the league's coaches.
Georgia Southern's Dion Dubose, a Norcross grad, led the way as a first-team selection by the coaches and a second-team selection by the media. After returning from a serious knee injury, the senior had 41 tackles (six for losses) and 3.5 sacks this season.
Dacula grad Calvin Cantrell, an offensive lineman at Wofford, and Berkmar grad Kadeem Wise, a defensive back at Chattanooga, were named to the second teams by both the coaches and the media.
The coaches also selected an all-freshman team and three Gwinnett grads made the list: Georgia Southern linebacker Patrick Flowe (Parkview), Appalachian State wide receiver Malachi Jones (Central Gwinnett) and Furman long snapper Danny LaMontagne (Brookwood).
Kugbila, Hinsley named all-conference
Two Gwinnett grads, Valdosta State's Edmund Kugbila and West Georgia's Seth Hinsley, were on the All-Gulf South Conference team released last week.
Kugbila, a Central Gwinnett grad, made the first team for the second straight season. The 6-foot-5, 347-pound offensive lineman helped the Blazers average a league-best 477.4 yards.
Hinsley, a running back from Norcross, averaged 70.3 rushing yards, third-best in the conference, this season.
Lombardo named all-conference
Washington and Lee quarterback Nick Lombardo, a Peachtree Ridge grad, was named to the All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference second team this week.
The junior rushed 1,010 yards, a school record for a quarterback, and five touchdowns this season. He also threw for 704 yards and seven TDs in the Generals' run-heavy offense.
Raymond gets Patriot League honor
Greater Atlanta Christian's Kalif Raymond, a freshman at Holy Cross, was a first-team All-Patriot League selection this week.
Raymond was selected as the conference's top return specialist. He returned 32 kickoffs for 777 yards (second-most in school history) and a touchdown this season also returned 19 punts for 101 yards. His 878 all-purpose yards led Holy Cross and his 24.3 yards per kickoff return led the Patriot League.
Chapple guides Harvard past Yale
Colton Chapple had an 18-yard touchdown run and a 61-yard run to set up another score as Harvard defeated rival Yale 34-24 last Saturday.
The Greater Atlanta Christian grad completed 22 of 32 passes for 209 yards and two TDs, in addition to carrying 18 times for 128 more yards.
Mecheso, OSU win NCAA title
Led by Girma Mecheso's fifth-place finish, Oklahoma State won the NCAA cross country championship last weekend.
The Berkmar grad ran the 10K course in 29 minutes, 14.8 seconds and was the Cowboys' top individual finisher. Grayson grad Kirubel Erassa, a sophomore at Oklahoma State, was 102nd in 30:44.8.
Georgia's men's team posted its highest team finish ever in 19th, led by Parkview grad Brett Richardson. The senior finished 96th in 30:41.1. Teammate Brian Detweiler, also a senior from Parkview, finished 121st in 30:55.7.
The Florida State women finished fourth behind a strong finish from co-captain and Collins Hill grad Amanda Winslow. The senior was 17th with a time of 20:02.4 on the 6K course.
Villanova's Nicky Akande, also a Collins Hill grad, was 95th in 20:46.5.
The Georgia women's team was 30th in its first trip to the NCAA meet since 2007. North Gwinnett's Nicole DiMercurio was 210th with a time of 21:34.5.
Metzger gives North Georgia a boost
North Georgia's basketball team has gotten a strong boost off the bench this season from Greater Atlanta Christian's Taylor Metzger.
The junior averaged 9 points in 15 minutes per game in the Saints' 3-0 start.
Collins Hill grads crack lineup
Collins Hill's Steven Bradtmueller and Andrew Krawulski have cracked the lineup as freshmen at McKendree University (Ill.).
Bradtmueller, who wrestles at 141 pounds, finished sixth at the recent Central Missouri Open. Krawulski wrestles at 184.
Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.