Darius Bracy hurries back from injury, throws first career touchdown pass

Mobile, Ala. junior Darius Bracy runs through tacklers against Robert Morris, Saturday, Sept. 11.

Third-and-6 from the Western Michigan 11-yard line. Central Michigan coach Jim McElwain called the number of running back Darius Bracy.

After sitting out the previous five games due to a Grade 3 MCL sprain, Bracy was given an opportunity to change the game. Except he wasn't going to run the ball. 

His lone play in CMU's 42-30 win over WMU would require him to channel his inner quarterback, something he hadn't done since his time as the starting for Baker High School in Mobile, Alabama. 

He took the snap and took two steps forward before perfectly slinging the ball over the war in the trenches and safely into the hands of tight end Joel Wilson, who ran into the end zone untouched. The jump pass was not only perfectly executed, but it allowed CMU to take a 42-24 lead with 7:31 remaining, forcing Bronco fans to flood to the exits. 

"They told us the play we were gonna run, and I was like, 'Yo, let's do this,'" Bracy said. "I'd been waiting to do it. We did it against Western, that's a big thing for me. That's something I'm gonna remember for a long time. 

"My first college touchdown pass, against Western."

It was a fulfilling return for the junior running back, who carried the ball five times for 20 yards in CMU's latest game, a 54-30 win over Kent State. This game was the first where Bracy was fully free after rehabbing his injury. 

In CMU's week three loss at Louisianna State, Bracy caught a swing pass from quarterback Jacob Sirmon and was hit in the knee, fumbling the ball as he spiraled to the turf. That hit caused the Grade 3 sprain, which sidelined him for five games. 

Initially, McElwain said the injury would keep him out three-to-six weeks. All the while, however, Bracy was rehabbing relentlessly to get back from the injury. 

"It was just a lot of patience," Bracy said." It was really just about the MCL getting stronger. It is about what you do in the training room but it's all about patient games because you can't really do a lot of workouts because the MCL heals on its own. I just did what I had to do in the training room. The trainers did what they had to and they got me back right."

After arriving to CMU as a defensive back, Bracy converted to running back to help fill depth in 2020. Throughout his rehab process, he took on a new role. No longer able to contribute on the field, he began giving advice and sharing observations with teammates. 

"Watching the game from the sideline, you see everything," Bracy said. "You see all the stuff you wouldn't see if you were playing. Because once the offense get off the field, you're back on the sideline going over plays we're gonna run. So I'm just on the sideline watching everything. And then you see things you can go back and tell your teammates who are playing. It's a win-win situation sometimes." 

McElwain praised Bracy's rehab efforts, which ultimately led to his quick return. 

"Credit to him, man," McElwain said prior to knocking off WMU. "He's put a lot of work in and it really tells you who he is and what he's all about. So happy for that." 

On a team at is somewhat devoid of experience due to injuries, the upperclassman knew it was in his team's best interest to hurry back. 

"As I was trying to rush back, I also didn't want to rush back too soon because I didn't want to re-injure (the knee)," Bracy said. "If you re-injure (the MCL) it could be worse. I always had a thought in my mind that I want to get back, I wanted to rush back. 

"At the end of the day, if you're not playing football and it's in the season, that can be a little depressing."