When Josiah Bronson heard his ankle crack, he knew his season was over.
During the team’s first scrimmage of the summer on Aug. 15, 2015, the then-freshman defensive lineman broke his left ankle when defensive lineman Haason Reddick rolled on it during a play.
In Covington, Washington, Sandra Bronson was in her bedroom when defensive line coach Elijah Robinson told her the news. When she answered the phone, she sat down on a night seat at the end of her bed.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” she said. “His voice was solemn, not his normal tone of voice. So I sat down and listen, but I didn’t get panicky. He said Josiah suffered an injury to his ankle. At that point, I didn’t know if it was a fracture or what happened. Then he told us he was going to the hospital. When he said that, I knew it wasn’t a little thing.”
Four days later, Sandra Bronson and her husband, Johnny, flew to Philadelphia to be with their son, who was scheduled to have surgery at Temple University Hospital.
After successful surgery by Dr. Joseph Milo Sewards on Aug. 18, 2015, the Bronson family was together for one week in Philadelphia during Josiah Bronson’s recovery.
“It was great support,” Josiah Bronson said. “I’m all the way out here by myself. It was good to have them right by my side going through the hard times.”
This season, the redshirt freshman is looking to break through on a defensive line that returns eight players from last season who played in 12-or-more games, including Reddick and redshirt senior Praise Martin-Oguike, two of the four Owls’ last season to total four or more sacks.
“I think he is very capable of accomplishing many things this season, and I think he is going to have a huge season,” junior defensive lineman Jacob Martin said. “He is going to shock everyone.”
When Josiah Bronson was a child, his mother did not let him play football. Sandra Bronson encouraged her son, the youngest of three children, to be involved in numerous activities so he could discover his interests.
Josiah Bronson gravitated to the hardwood as a child, playing basketball growing up. Off the floor, he played the drums and the keyboard.
“I thought maybe we could hold off a bit because Josiah is the baby and until he decided what he liked because there were a lot of sports out there,” Sandra Bronson said. “We put him in a lot of different things.”
When he was in eighth grade, Sandra Bronson let Josiah Bronson play football. The 6-foot, 230 pounder played running back and middle linebacker in his first season at Meridian Middle School.
While on the field, he donned No. 30, a tribute to his brother, Demitrius Bronson, who wore the number while at Eastern Washington University and as a member of the Seattle Seahawks.
“I was just running around,” Josiah Bronson said. “It was really fun.”
One year later, Josiah Bronson attended Kentwood High School and did not make the varsity football team in his first season. Instead, he played on the freshman team.
Josiah Bronson made the varsity team his sophomore year, playing left tackle. Later that season, he transitioned to the defensive line and became a tight end on the offensive side of the ball his junior year.
With basketball no longer in the picture, Josiah Bronson began carving his own niche on the field. As a senior, he was named to the AP all-state first team.
Josiah Bronson said he learned his work ethic from Demitrius Bronson, his other brother John and his sister Leitawsha Bronson. Demitrius Bronson and John Bronson, who both played in the NFL, used to pull their dad’s Chevy truck on a side street next to their childhood home to stay in shape, and Leitawsha excelled in field events and played basketball at Morgan State University.
“When I was in high school, I was a lazy guy,” Josiah Bronson said. “All the talent in the world, and I never wanted to work. But they did a good job of getting me going. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
With the season opener five months away, coach Matt Rhule said the Owls will need Josiah Bronson to step up to match the defensive performance from last season, when the team finished No. 20 in Division I in total defense.
“He’s working his way back right now,” Rhule said. “He is a guy that has a chance to make some ‘Oh wow’ plays. We probably really need Josiah to come on to be the defense we want.”
Michael Guise can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Michael_Guise.