Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Trainer | 2020 WR Jay Brunelle Is "The Real Deal"

April 4, 2019

When Jay Brunelle‍ walked into Exceed Sports Performance & Fitness to train for the first time a couple years ago, the 2020 Massachusetts wide receiver’s potential wasn’t obvious to everybody.

“When he walked in here and started training with us, they didn’t know where this could go,” Exceed Sports owner/director of operations Sean Smith recalls.

“He’s had some success and is bubbling, it’s like, ‘Wow, let’s keep this going.’”

Smith, who owns Exceed with his business partner Shane Davenport, says when he first started working with Brunelle, the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder was a 1-AA prospect.

“I know the Big 10 well,” says Smith, whose brother Brendan was a safety and captain at Northwestern.

Smith trained his brother and many of his former teammates while in Chicago.

“Having worked with a lot of professional athletes – I knew, ‘No, he’s not a Patriot League, Ivy League receiver. He’s a Power Five receiver.’

“Then, 18 touchdowns and whatever his stats were last year, it’s like, ‘Yeah, he’s the real deal.’”

The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder from St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury, Mass., still has some unfinished business, but with an offer from Michigan and Boston College among others, he’s proven he’s a national prospect.

“It’ll take the right system and the right school, but he’s going to have success,” Smith continues. “He’s going to work hard. If he doesn’t go in and play as a freshman, he’s not one of those who will go in the tubes. That’s not him. He’ll work so hard that he’ll get some attention. He works his ass off, he really does.”

Smith says Brunelle has added 10 to 15 pounds over the last year and a half or so improved all of his numbers.

“Everything is way up,” says Smith. “Vert went up, strength is way up, his bench is up, his squat is up, his cleans are up. Everything is up.”

Smith expects Brunelle to continue improving as a receiver just by being around some of the NFL guys who work out at Exceed.

“Just picking up intricacies of route-running,” he says. “We don’t teach them route-running in here per se, but we do a lot of change-of-direction, sprint/deceleration. I’ll teach him the basics of getting in and out of breaks and cuts, which directly applies to route-running.

“This year, they’re going to put a lot of attention on him. They should press him and put somebody over the top of him. He’s going to be humbled in my opinion because he’s going to get so much attention. He’s not going to go for 20 touchdowns. Being crafty, being resilient and growing as a receiver and just picking up the game a lot more. Honestly, I think he’s a pretty skilled athlete. High school to college is different and from college to pro is another step.”

Smith, who was raised by a Marine, is trying to pass on some of those lessons in leadership.

“I’m the oldest and I was always a captain on my team,” He says. “I’m trying to take what my old man taught man and showing him how to push the guys. He’s working and he’s leading by example and he’s starting to get some attention, which is awesome.

“I’m trying to get him to become a better leader and I think he’s starting to figure that out.”

Many of the athletes working out at Exceed these days are teammates of Brunelle’s at St. John’s who he’s trying to lead.

“They won states his sophomore year,” Smith says. “Last year, they had a pretty good season. They had the talent to win another one, but against Springfield Central, they didn’t show up.”

Brunelle is a mature, grounded young man who takes care of his business.

“His parents are awesome…Dad is a former college football player at Colgate. They’re driven, they’re respected. They have some fun. They’re a great family. He’s all business.”

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