Delian Bradley excels both on and off the field

The word ‘complacent’ is not in Delian Bradley’s vocabulary until he describes what he’s not.

The Springfield High School Wildcats free safety/defensive back was a football phenom this season, helping to lead the team to the first appearance in the OHSAA State Championship game in school history.

Bradley’s stats on the field are impressive – four-year varsity starter, three-time selection on the All-Conference First Team and All-Southwest District Team, an All-Ohio First-Team selection and Conference Player of the Year in 2020.

He calls this year’s run to the state championship game, “a movie,” referring to the goals that were set and exceeded by he and his teammates.

But despite his athletic accomplishments, Bradley can acknowledge the grave truth: “One day, football will end,” he says.

It was a hard pill to swallow when he first heard it from his very wise parents as a young kid. But by letting him in on that life lesson early, his mom and dad may have done him the biggest favor of his life.

From that point on, Bradley pushed himself to put on some of his best performances in the classroom. Average grades weren’t good enough, and there was always room for improvement.

As a senior on the cusp of graduation, he currently maintains an impressive 4.33 GPA and is also a member of the basketball team, National Honor Society and student council.

His hard work has earned him 31 college scholarship offers to date, including several from the Ivy League, the Big Ten and military-based institutions.

Harvard, Yale, Brown, Columbia and Dartmouth have all expressed interest in Bradley continuing his education and athletic endeavors at their universities.

Bradley now spends what feels like every second of his day communicating with college coaches and recruiters.

The first offer, from the University of Kentucky, came when Bradley was just a freshman.

From there, the dominos started to fall. Full scholarship opportunities from the Ivys started last year.

He admits that deciding between so many life-changing offers will be difficult – but a good problem to have.

This weekend, Bradley will take his first official visit to Harvard – a place sometimes only small-town kids can dream of.

“It shows how much work I put in academically,” Bradley says.

He has ambitions of majoring in business or law and, of course, playing football – hopefully one day, in an NFL jersey.

Head Springfield Football Coach Maurice Douglass constantly referred to Bradley as one of his team’s leaders this past season.

Douglass says that the potential for Bradley to attend an Ivy League is a beacon to other student-athletes, even more so for those who identify as minorities.

“It’s the kids (like Delian) who apply themselves who will do great things,” Douglass says. “He’ll be able to attain whatever he wants.”

In the midst of his overwhelming success, Bradley remains humble. He is a consistent favorite of his teachers and mentors, who commend him for his likeable personality and positive attitude.

“Delian Bradley is truly a breath of fresh air,” says SHS Advanced Placement Calculus teacher Sarah Reigelsperger. “When given challenges, he sees opportunities to learn. If there is an opportunity to learn something, Delian is going to seize that opportunity with grace and integrity. He is an amazing young man and a wonderful role model for other students.”

Another educator, English Teacher Daniel Reed says Bradley is among the upper level of students he has taught in his career at Springfield.

“Seldom have I come across a student that is as hard-working, motivated, and passionate as Delian has shown himself to be,” Reed says. “He strives for perfection in all facets of life and that is ultimately the most admirable characteristic he possesses. It has been a privilege watching him grow, and I look forward to seeing where the next stage of his journey takes him.”

When asked why Bradley never solely banked on his athletic skills and settled for ‘B’ averages, his reply was simple, but well-beyond his years.

“I just don’t wanna be complacent,” he says.

But there has always been more at stake for Bradley than being labeled ‘complacent.’

His drive comes from his desire to be the best role model possible for his siblings. He has two younger brothers, SHS junior Daylen and SHS sophomore Duncan, who are also rising stars in the Wildcat football program.

“My brothers are always going to look up to me, and they’re going to want to be better or do the same things that I do,” he says.

The Bradley brothers have talked about college offers, scholarships and playing at the next level since they were in pee-wee games – now they’re living out the dream in real-time.

Bradley is hopeful the success doesn’t stop within the confines of the Bradley family. His message to every kid in Springfield who wants to become something great? Go do it.

“Those kids in the elementary and middle schools that I went to – if they can see someone in their local high school get scholarship offers and get athletic achievements – it’ll push them to want to be better than that person,” he says. “Just because they’re from small-town Springfield, doesn’t mean they can’t achieve everything they want in life.”

With so much to do, in what feels like so little time, Bradley hasn’t had too many moments of sadness yet in his senior year.

If anything, he’s excited. He’s paved the way for himself, and now it’s time to take the next steps.

Springfield will miss Delian, or ‘Dilly’ as he’s lovingly referred to around the high school hallways, but his Wildcat family will always root him on in whatever he chooses as his next step.