Record setting Gulf Shores High grad Brandon Silvers ready for year 4 as Troy’s starting quarterback
Orange Beach native has already been named to the Maxwell Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and Davey O’Brien Award watch lists
By Fran Thompson
Brandon Silvers, a 2012 Gulf Shores High School grad now entering his fourth year as Troy University’s starting quarterback, won’t be sneaking up on any defenses this fall.
The Orange Beach native has already been named to the Maxwell Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and Davey O’Brien Award watch lists.
And that is in addition to being the pre-season pick as the Sun Belt All-Conference First Team Quarterback.
The O’Brien award is presented annually to the nation’s best college quarterback, and the Maxwell Award to America’s College Player of the Year. The Unitas Award is selected based on accomplishments both on and off the field, and candidates must be a college senior or fourth-year junior on schedule to graduate with their class.
That is not an issue for Brandon. He graduated from Troy last week with a degree in sport & fitness management, celebrating on the water in Cotton Bayou with at least 15 family members and lunch at Tacky Jack’s in Orange Beach.
Silvers has amassed 7,394 passing yards and 54 touchdowns in his Troy career, while completing 64.7 percent of his passes. A versatile threat under center, he has also rushed for 365 yards and 11 touchdowns in his career.
A first team All-Conference selection in 2016, Silvers led the Sun Belt with 23 touchdown passes and completed 63.7 percent of his attempts to lead Troy to its first 10 win season since joining the FBS in 2001.
The record breaking season included a win against Ohio University in the Dollar General Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile. Brandon threw for a career-high 395 yards to lead Troy to a win against South Alabama in that same stadium last October.
The NCAA record holder with his 69.5 completion percentage as a freshman, Silvers ranked sixth in the nation for completion percentage for quarterbacks with at least 450 attempts last year.
“As Brandon has matured off the field, his in-game decision making has also improved,’’ said third year Troy head coach Neal Brown during Sun Belt Media Day.
“Physically, he has the tools. He’s big guy – 6’2 plus, 225 lbs.
“The thing that probably separates him from a lot of Division I quarterbacks is his release,’’ the coach added. “He gets the ball out really fast.’’
Considered one of the top young minds in college football, Brown, was the offensive coordinator at Texas Tech and Kentucky before replacing Larry Blakeney, who retired after 24 seasons at Troy and gave his successor his first chance as an offensive coordinator in 2008. Brown was just 25 at the time.
“This is a league of really good quarterbacks, and he was named pre-season All-Conference,’’ Brown said. “For him to repeat as first team All-Conference, he is going to have to raise his level of play, because I know those other guys will.
“What he has to do is play at a consistent level in big games, and I think he’s ready to take that next step.’’
In addition to spots on the post season award watch lists and his pre-season all-conference selection, Brandon’s summer included his first invite to the legendary Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, Louisiana, where he joined some of the most successful and brightest coaches and players from the professional and college ranks for a week.
“That was a good time – a really good experience,’’ Brandon said. “There were something like 43 quarterbacks there, including guys you see on TV all the time. It was a fun atmosphere being around all those guys and getting to compete with them.
“I felt like I could throw with any of them,’’ he added.
“I think the camp showed him personally that he has the NFL talent to have a chance at the next level,’’ added Sean Reagan, the Troy quarterback coach. “He has heard it a lot, but seeing it in person goes a long way.’’
Brandon has showed improvement in each of the three years he has started under center at Troy, earning a spot on the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Newcomer Team as a freshman and All Conference Honorable Mention as a sophomore.
His breakout 2016 season also included a 133.05 passer rating (3rd best in the league). He threw multiple touchdown passes in eight games and had three touchdown passes against Southern Miss, Idaho and UMass. His touchdown total ranked 35th in the country.
He led the Sun Belt with 129 passes of 10 or more yards and posted the fifth-most yards of total offense in a game in Troy history with 413 at South Alabama.
On the single-season Troy leaderboard, his season totals ranked fourth for completions (293), fifth for attempts (460), fifth for passing yards (3,180), fourth for passing touchdowns (23), sixth for completion percentage (63.7) and fifth for total offense (3,308). His 26 total touchdowns rank as the fifth most in a season in Troy history.
He even caught a two-point conversion pass from John Johnson at South Alabama.
Rather than rest on those past successes, Brandon stepped up his training since last season and is expecting the results to be evident when Troy opens the season Sept. 2 at Boise State.
“I worked to get more power in my drop during spring practice and I worked real hard this summer to get more velocity on the ball. I feel really good about going into the first game,’’ Brandon said.
“His top strength is how fast he can get the ball out. He has also improved on getting his pre-snaps to have a better idea of where he might go with the ball,’’ Reagan said. “We led the country in fewest sacks allowed, and Brandon and the offensive line had a lot to do with that.’’
Brandon and Reagan have set goals of earning All-American and Sun Belt Player of the Year honors, but Brandon also knows exactly how he wants to end his Troy career.
“I want to win the Sun Belt Championship and get to one of the big bowls,’’ he said.
“We give him some fundamental goals to reach and concentrate on as well as a couple statistical goals before we get to game one,’’ Reagan said. “These goals are set for him to compete within himself on a daily basis.’’
At Gulf Shores, Brandon played for three football coaches – Duane Davis, Mark Freeman & Ben Blackmon – in his three varsity seasons and also played for three basketball coaches in three seasons at GSHS.
Guiding Freeman’s spread offense as a GSHS junior, Brandon amassed 2,468 yards passing and threw for 26 touchdowns. He was slotted in at number 16 in his class’s ESPN high school quarterback rankings.
Blackmon took over at GSHS during Brandon’s senior year, and Brandon completed 108-of-201 pass attempts for 1,400 yards and six touchdowns. He ran for 410 more yards on 116 carries and scored nine rushing touchdowns.
ESPN ranked him a three-start recruit out of high school.
Brandon was recruited by most SEC schools and had offers from just about every team in the Sun Belt Conference, among others.
“This guy may be the most under the radar quarterback prospect in this class,” noted ESPN.com when he signed with Troy.
Brandon continued a family legacy when he selected Troy. His athletic mother, Roz Ann Silvers, attended Troy, and his uncle, Carey Christensen, played quarterback on Troy’s 1984 national championship squad.
Sports is definitely in his gene pool. His aunt, Metta Roberts, played basketball at South Alabama. His grandfather, Raymond Christiansen, was one of Kenny Stabler’s football coaches at Foley High.
An all around athlete in his youth, Brandon once played for a Baldwin County AAU basketball team in a national tournament in Atlanta, then immediately drove with his mom to Orlando to pitch and play outfield for an elite baseball team in a national tourney.
Brandon’s father, Jeff Silvers, is on the Orange Beach City Council. He and Brandon’s mom, Roz Ann, knew each other at Foley High School, but they didn’t start dating until Jeff ran into Roz Ann a few years later at the old L.A. Pub & Grub in Gulf Shores.
Besides the NCAA completion percentage record previously owned by top NFL draft choice Sam Bradford while he was at Oklahoma, Brandon’s Troy highlights in 2015 included five touchdown passes in the first half at New Mexico State, tied for the fourth-most in a game in Sun Belt history.
He completed 22-of-33 passes for 326 yards and four touchdowns against ULM. He ended the 2015 season on a high note, completing 22-of-28 passes for 320 yards and four touchdowns in the season finale at Lafayette.
He finished third in the Sun Belt with a 138.6 passer rating during his freshman year and also set the Troy record for consecutive passes to open a career without an interception.
As he enters what should be the most exciting fall of his life, Brandon said he knows his family, friends and hometown are all behind him.
“It’s been great seeing the joy on my family’s faces when they learn that I’ve been named to a watch list,’ he said.
“Growing up, I was always a family guy, and I always liked staying close to home. So it’s been great going to a school that’s only three hours away,’’ he added.
“I see a lot of Troy stickers when I’m home, and I have friends that have bought season tickets this year. I get lots of positive feedback every time I go home.’’
“He has been working really hard,’’ Reagan said. “I believe he truly gets that this is his final run with his teammates to try and win a championship. Winning one means a lot to Brandon