The college decision is in for Oakleaf High School's Melvin Briley one of the top triple jumpers in the nation. The 4A state champion in 2016 who is also ranked 6th nationally coming into the 2018 season has announced he will stay in-state signing with the University of South Florida. Briley was 7th at New Balance Nationals before winning the AAU National Club Championships in Orlando. We caught up with him to talk about the decision, training, goals for 2018, and more.
What was the recruiting process like for you? Was there a defining moment where you really saw it take off?
Honestly when the recruiting process started for me, it was a bumpy ride. I had a hard time figuring out what I truly wanted to do athletically. After a year and a half passed, I figured out that my passion is with track and field and that this is where I am my happiest. I never had a thought that I would be a college jumper or as good as people think that I am now. When my sophomore season ended, my PR in in triple jump was 45 feet. I had times where I questioned if I was even going to compete at a college level. No coaches were showing interest and I often doubted myself. My coach helped guide me and always told me I was better than I thought I was. We worked hard all summer leading into my junior season and in Birmingham, I started my season off with a 49'1 foot jump (video above). This was the moment when the recruiting process took off for me.
Where all did you visit/consider?
My first unofficial visit was Columbia University in New York. I visited when I competed in NBNI and it was a beautiful campus and somewhere I thought I could see myself going. I then visited University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and that was also an amazing campus. I loved every aspect of the campus life, track and facilities and surrounding area. The only official visit I decided to take was USF and they kind of had me sold. Prior to my visit, things happened and I realized being close to home is more important to me than a lot of the other aspects of a university that I was worried about. I considered University of Miami, University of Florida, Florida State University, Columbia University, University of Georgia, and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
In the end, the University of South Florida was my choice because of how organized their programs are. They were the first program that I came across that knew the answer to just about every question I had. It sorta reflected the kind of program I would be in while attending the university as a student-athlete. It was easier to make my decision because in the end USF was the only school constantly contacting me and keeping me up to date about what was going on and asking how I was doing. To me, they showed that they truly care about me and genuinely want me as apart of their track family. They are a GREAT school and all of their programs have the potential to reach high altitudes. I want nothing more than to be apart of that!
While there it would be nice if I could focus on only long and triple jump, but I would have no problem crossing over into one or multiple of the sprints (100, 200, 400 or even a relay) if they need me there. My coach always tells me "The strongest jumpers are runners too." I am happy to help in any way the team needs me and looking forward to getting faster either on the track, "field" or both!
Since I won state last year, training has been more focused on not losing any technique or strength that I already have developed. There's been some practices that I haven't been able to walk afterwards and others where I am hardly tired at all. In this part of the season, my coach and I are mainly just tuning my body and getting my mentality back to where it should be.
I will kick off this indoor season at the Galleria Games, then hopefully make it out to the Virgina Showcase. After that I have the meet in Atlanta on my schedule and I will wrap it up at New Balance Nationals Indoor.
It feels great to have commit early because I have no pressure on myself about what to jump and when to jump it. I have set goals for the season and this is the way I see myself getting through it as competitive as possible. My PR last year was 49'7 in triple jump & this year I am aiming for anything over that. I believe that I can hit those marks easily, but it takes patience. However, I like to remain humble and tend to keep my goals to myself. I'm ranked high in the nation based on returners for indoor season and I would love to hold that spot the best I can. Ultimately, this season will be about testing my abilities without injuring myself.