Robert Morris sophomore Brett getting his kicks
College Football Videos
The adjustment wasn't going to be easy, and Neco Brett knew it. He was leaving his native Jamaica to attend college 1,500 miles away in a foreign country.
At least he had soccer. Until he assimilated into life at Robert Morris, he could find solace in the game he had played fanatically since age 6.
“I could see it in preseason his freshman year,” said coach Bill Denniston, who recruited Brett and two other Jamaicans on the current roster through a contact he made while coaching at Alderson Broaddus 20 years ago. “He's got speed, he's got strength, ability and skill and determination. He's at the next level.”
But four days before his first game, Brett was injured. He missed the first two games, and even when he returned, he never was completely healthy. He missed four more games throughout the season, and his struggles on and off the pitch began to take their toll.
“Then, I wasn't eating as much and sleeping and so forth,” Brett said. “I was thinking coach must be really upset giving me a full scholarship. It's like a waste of money.”
Brett didn't register a single point as a freshman.
Rather than wilt under the disappointment, he decided it was time to get tough. Before going back to Jamaica for the summer, Brett promised Denniston he would lead the team in scoring in 2013.
He has made good on that vow — and then some.
Heading into the final week of the regular season, the sophomore is leading NCAA Division I with 34 points (13 goals, eight assists). He needs three points in Sunday's finale at St. Francis (Pa.) to tie the RMU single-season mark.
Brett knew he could compete. For him, as with many other Jamaican boys, soccer was his life. Most days during his youth, he was out the door early — sometimes without the luxury of shoes — to play with his friends. The competition often lasted until dusk without even a passing thought about stopping to eat.
His persistence and talent led to spots on Jamaica's Under-17, U-20 and U-23 teams, but he needed a breakthrough at RMU. He finally got his first goal in the Colonials' second game this season.
“I just had to get myself together, and everything would be fine,” Brett said. “Scoring goals would not be a problem. You just need to score one, then you just need to carry on.”
That he has. His 13 goals are just two fewer than the Colonials had as a team in 2012. In back-to-back wins, 3-1 over Buffalo and 2-1 over George Washington, Brett had all five goals. Even Northeast Conference champion Central Connecticut State had no answer. Brett recorded six shots and the Colonials' only goal in a 2-1 loss this past Saturday.
“They couldn't stop him,” Denniston said, “and they're screaming his name every five seconds.”
The Colonials (8-7-2 overall, 2-4-0 NEC) won't qualify for the NEC Tournament, but they are assured of finishing no worse than .500 — a vast improvement from last year's 5-12-2 showing. Brett is confident of an even better season next year for the team and himself.
Denniston acknowledged that Brett may have a tougher time getting as many good looks at the goal now that he's known. He already has noticed increased attention from opposing defenders.
Brett, however, welcomes the challenge. Comfortable in the U.S. and again able to focus on his first love, he has his eye on a much loftier goal total.
“Next season,” he said, “I have to set my target to 25.”
Chuck Curti is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Prime time not kind to Heinz Field
- Ferrante homicide trial heads into day 6 with testimony on cyanide, Web searches
- Steelers offense puts up gaudy numbers in season’s 1st half
- Kennametal profit, sales improve in 1Q, but forecast reduced
- Starkey: Hockey hypocrites, unite
- Woman’s body found in Mars home
- Penguins veteran defenseman Scuderi’s game looking up
- State police trooper seriously hurt when hit by vehicle in East Huntingdon
- Fulbright Program gives Pine woman taste of Thailand
- Clairton police rounding up street-level drug dealers
- Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger, offense must adjust with CB Smith out