Digging Deeper: Markas Brunson
by Will Cornelius '10
"Sports do not build character. They reveal it," said legendary coach John Wooden.
If there was ever a student-athlete who understands this, it is Markas Brunson.
Brunson, a four-year starter for Kevin Kiesel's defense, has taken all he can in his four years as a Guilford student-athlete. While his size and speed have allowed him to terrorize opposing quarterbacks on the field, his experiences off the field are the driving forces responsible for the man Brunson is today.
"It is Kevin Kiesel. There isn't a better man coaching football," said Brunson. "It isn't always about being a good football player, it's about being a good man and growing as a person."
As a football player, though, Brunson has been an unstoppable force on the Guilford gridiron. The Charleston, S.C., native has been a mainstay in the Quakers' lineup since arriving on campus in 2006, and has emerged as a defensive leader.
"When you're fresh out of high school, you walk into a structured environment like collegiate athletics, it really gives you a support system, and helps you grow," said Brunson.
The defensive captain traces his success back to high school, where he garnered all-conference and all-area accolades at Rosewood High School in Goldsboro, N.C. But Brunson has certainly blossomed here at Guilford, and attributes his on-field success to the mental preparedness instilled by his high school coach, former Guilford football player Daniel Barrow '80.
"It's just the mentality we had there, and now here. When we go to work, we go to work. We're not going to play around, we're going to do it 110 percent," said Brunson.
In fact, Brunson has developed into the good football player that he referenced. He has hauled in honorable mention All-ODAC and Second Team All-ODAC laurels over his past two seasons, and wraps up his career today ranked second on Guilford's all-time lists for sacks and tackles for loss. His 8.5 sacks a year ago stand sixth in school history.
The levelheaded Brunson is the first to attribute his success to others.
"I don't keep track of the stats," said Brunson. "It's always been about how 60 guys can all work hard and dedicate themselves to one goal."
Brunson doesn't play the role of superstar well, but his role as a leader for the young Guilford football team is undeniable.
"His physical skills and accolades have earned him the respect, but it's the fact that he's a senior, can speak to the team, and motivate others that makes him our undisputed leader," said junior cornerback Jordan Nelson.
Brunson has clearly allowed character to shape his game and excel in football, but the field isn't the only place where Brunson shines. Off the field, he works in conjunction with other students and faculty to engineer real answers to life's real problems. He was one of 10 Guilford students selected for the school's Principled Problem Solving (PPS) program a year ago. The program is designed to teach analytical, creative, and efficient methods to solve real-world problems under the guidance of Guilford's core values.
Playing football has helped Brunson incorporate problem solving and leadership skills in a different arena. "Through PPS, I learned that there are many different ways to look at a problem, and sometimes it really takes a teamwork effort to accomplish a task," said Brunson.
The program also helped Brunson find a role in the community through internships that allowed him work with local youth.
"PPS has just changed me in so many ways through the internships with community organizations like Greensboro Housing Coalition and Wise Guys," said Brunson. "Just to see the impact that one person can have on someone's life in such a minuscule amount of time has been very meaningful."
Brunson presently works with Wise Guys, a Greensboro mentoring organization, and hopes to continue impacting the lives of children in the future. He concludes his senior season this weekend, and will graduate with a degree in psychology. After Guilford, Brunson aspires to enter the military like his father before him.
No matter what opportunities he finds after school, Brunson's experiences as a community and athletic leader at Guilford have laid a solid foundation for success.