WVU's Braun All Business in Baltimore - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU's Braun All Business in Baltimore

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MORGANTOWN -

A simple text message less than two weeks before the NFL Draft proved to be the first step toward Jeff Braun finding his opportunity in the league.

"I received a text from what appeared to be Coach [John] Harbaugh and the text just said, ‘Hopefully you can be a part of the Super Bowl champions,'" Braun recalls, referencing the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens. "At first, I thought it was a prank, being from Maryland and a lot of people having my number."

It was no prank. Shortly after, Braun spoke with a Ravens scout who told him the team had real interest in him and that, yes, the text message was from Harbaugh himself.

On Saturday night, Baltimore picked a guard and a center with its fifth and sixth round selections, but Braun remained undrafted. As soon as the process had ended, though, offensive line coach Andy Moeller was on the phone offering a position as an undrafted free agent.

For a Westminster, Md. native who grew up a Ravens fan, it would seem the perfect situation. But the fit for Braun extended beyond the fact that it was the hometown team.

"It's kind of a unique situation that I get to have rookie mini camp and our practice facility's 20 minutes from where I grew up and played high school ball at," said Braun. "To be honest, personally, nothing went into that decision to play for the Ravens. Playing for the Ravens was strictly a business decision based on fit and also based on the coaches having contact with me and showing interest."

Landing in camp is one thing. Teams sometimes bring in over 10 prospects who they feel could be of benefit and hardly any of them stick around to find their names on the roster.

Still, it is the chance to put a foot in the door and show what you are capable of and for many of the players who waited seven rounds without hearing their name called, that is precisely what they are looking for.

For Braun, a 6-foot-5, 316-pound swingman along the offensive line, it all starts in Baltimore.

"They told me I'm going to play guard, that's where they see me now and that's a good thing," he said. "I've had talks with Coach Moeller about snapping and he wanted to know if I can snap and I said for sure. I haven't been in there yet to see depth chart or anything, but I know the only really solid spot that I've seen are at the tackle positions with Michael Oher and Marshall Yanda. Everything else right now is kind of an open competition battle."

He will be up against draft picks who the franchise has more invested in, but his job now is to prove that he should have been the one coming off the board in the fifth and sixth rounds, not those two.

When Braun gets to Baltimore, he will join an old friend of his, former WVU and Delaware offensive lineman Gino Gradkowski. The two have already spoken about what Braun should expect from mini camp and Gradkowski has offered his assistance in teaching the playbook.

But it's another former teammate, Green Bay's Don Barclay, who has served to motivate Braun. Barclay also went undrafted, but he proved his worth in camp and was ultimately starting by the end of the season.

"Whenever I just have an ounce of doubt in me, I look at his situation and I see what he's done and his work ethic got him to where he is," said Braun. "I know if I follow that and I do what I have to do, I could end up in the same position."

Braun enters this coming weekend's mini camp cautiously optimistic about what he can accomplish if he puts his best foot forward in front of the staff. He works every day to ensure that he never feels satisfied or becomes complacent, two traits that he warns could be dangerous to anyone's success.

"My high school coach tells me it's good to feel wanted," said Braun. "It is good to feel wanted, but it's all business and those highs have to wear off pretty quickly at this stage in the game because you can't just be sitting there admiring what you've done when there's still work left to do."

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