Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
School: Holy Cross (Queens)
There ain't much out there on Brathwaite, to be honest, which is a shame, because irregardless (THAT'S NOT A WORD) of his future football prospects at UVA, it's clear we're getting a solid person. He's already qualified, which should come as no surprise: Holy Cross is a distinctive private school, and you might have heard of some of their more well-known recent alums: Kevin Ogletree and some basketball player named Sylven Landesberg.
So those concerns aside, what are we getting on the football field? It'll all depend on how well Brathwaite makes the transition from the defensive line to linebacker. Brathwaite is a "classic tweener": short for a defensive end, and biggish for the standard 4-3 linebacker. Ah, but we play a 3-4, as you well know, and Al Groh sees Brathwaite in the Darryl Blackstock/Clint Sintim role: rush linebacker that often plays with a hand on the ground.
Trouble is, Brathwaite plays defensive tackle at Holy Cross. As defensive tackles are not called upon to do any pass coverage or any linebackery stuff, Brathwaite knows he has a learning curve ahead of him. 250 pounds, however, is not big enough to play DT at the college level, and if he were likely to get substantially bigger he'd have more I-A offers than the one he currently holds, so this was going to be the case no matter what.
As the above link will tell you, he's been tearing up the camp scene, and garnering words of praise from Mike Farrell, who has this to say:
On defense, Flushing (N.Y.) Holy Cross defensive end Christopher Brathwaite, coming off his MVP performance at the NIKE Camp in Virginia, dominated the one-on-ones. He has superior strength, a very quick first step and a tenacity and motor you can’t teach. Only Vardaro was a match for him on the day."Vardaro" is Boston College commit and offensive tackle Robert Vardaro, FWIW. The dude is also 6'5", 307. If it takes an extra 57 pounds to match up with our boy here, I think I like that.
Brathwaite's almost certainly looking at a redshirt year, so he can learn how to play linebacker. And it's probably fair to wonder what might become of him if Groh is let go after this year and a new regime installs a totally different defense. But I have to admit this: During the course of researching this post, Brathwaite quickly became a personal favorite. I'm on record as being mildly annoyed about all these guys who nobody but us recruited, and Rutgers really was the only other I-A team looking at Brathwaite and they hadn't offered. And sure, when it comes to covering recruiting, certain things are ubiquitous and unavoidable. Effusive quotes from the high school coach. "Academics are a priority." You see it so often, you stop noticing. For whatever reason - maybe it's the high school, maybe it's the camp performances or the really mean look on his face in all the pictures - I drank the Kool-Aid here, and I see Brathwaite as the Kevin Parks of the defense: a guy who'd be way up everyone's charts if he were differently sized. Brathwaite underscores how uniquely tough it can be to recruit at UVA: the school is one of a select few that actually does more than pay lip service to the notion of a student-athlete, to the extent of frustrating many fans. I think in Brathwaite, Al Groh has found precisely what he's looking for in all his recruits.