Every student athlete’s journey is different. That is an understatement when it comes to describing Brandon Napoleon’s football career. With the new transfer portal, it’s not a surprise to see kids leave one school for another opportunity. But, Napoleon’s journey sent him to multiple stops along the way.
After starting his collegiate career at West Virginia University, Brandon would go on to transfer three times, making stops at Northern Iowa, Georgetown College, and ending his collegiate career at Kansas Wesleyan. Most would be overwhelmed, but for Napoleon, it was a great way to see the country, experience different schools, and make friends along the way.
“It helped me see what the world is like. Most people go to one school, one region, one part of the country, I was able to experience multiple. Kansas, Kentucky, Iowa, and West Virginia. It was a blessing in disguise. Meeting different people, different connections, and having friends from different parts of the country to this day.”
Brandon’s father, Eugene Napoleon was a part of huge success at WVU after transferring from Pitt to play running back and eventually finding himself on a team in 1988 that went undefeated in the regular season and played for the program’s only national title appearance. His dad was an influence when Brandon chose to start his collegiate career at WVU, but he can’t get all the credit when it comes to Brandon ending up in Morgantown.
“Most people don’t know, I was originally committed to North Carolina, I was going to make the announcement at the All American game. Long story short, Bill Stewart got fired, and Coach Holgorsen came in, and he actually offered me his second day on the job. I was always around West Virginia, I was always a Mountaineer fan, so once he offered me, and I took my official visit, it was an easy decision.”
Despite wanting his son to play for the Mountaineers, Eugene wanted his son to have his own legacy, whether it be in Morgantown or at Kansas Wesleyan. It wasn’t about solely carrying on the legacy of being a Mountaineer from father to son, it was about being there, and making sure his kid was successful no matter where he decided to play.
“As I got older, my dad taught me ultimately it is my name. It’s his name, but it’s also my name, I got to create my own legacy. I can’t try to chase after his, or even compete with his.”
During the interview, I had to have some fun with Brandon, I read in another column from right here at Dub V Nation, one of young Napoleon’s favorite teams is Virginia Tech. Brandon even took a visit and got to meet legendary coach Frank Beamer, so I had to ask if his dad would even put on the Hokie gear, had he ended up play in Blacksburg.
“Coming out of high school, if I would of had that Virginia Tech offer, I probably would of committed because of the Michael Vick era and the Marcus Vick era, I was coming out of high school as a quarterback. Me, my dad, and mom met with the head coach (Beamer). He was a legend, it was a great experience, all that, went to the Spring game. He (Eugene) actually was liking Virginia Tech, he loved, so it would of been an interesting experience for the fans. My family didn’t think of it that way, it would of been cool either way to see the name on the back of any jersey.”
We won’t hold that against you, Eugene. This is yet another example of a father wanting his son to succeed. Knowing Eugene Napoleon for a while now, it is no surprise to hear that he would do anything just to see his son succeed, and cheer him on along every step of the way, even if that meant he had to wear those dreadful Virginia Tech colors. Yuck.
The next chapter for Brandon post college ball was arena football with the IFL in Iowa. Napoleon only played in one game, but was enough to earn him an invite to the XFL Summer Showcase in Washington, DC. Napoleon got more than he bargained for.
“I had the opportunity to go up to the IFL in Iowa, I was only there three weeks, actually two and half weeks, I played in one game. As I played in the one game, I got the extra film, got the XFL invite.”
It was another chapter in Napoleon’s life, guiding him down this journey that began with multiple schools, arena football, and now the XFL Summer Showcase. The hard work, perseverance, and the grind never stops when you want to do what you love, and for Napoleon it would mean everything for him to play in the XFL, especially among his friends, and other former Mountaineers who also received an invite.
“I see other players getting invited, KJ Dillon got invited, that’s one of my best friends to this day, agent number 9. He’s going to be in Washington as well and Christian Brown, so it’s actually cool the West Virginia boys are getting a shot.”
Napoleon continued on the importance of the opportunity and the return home to New Jersey to work on his 40 time to make sure his mechanics were where they needed to be, so he can be one of the guys fortunate enough to be drafted, to play in the revived league. This was an opportunity to play at a professional level despite not making it to the NFL.
“That’s why I had to come home, to get my forty right, things like that. It’s an amazing opportunity, I don’t want to squander. I don’t want to take lightly, I want to take it full fledged, I want to give myself the best opportunity to compete well, and show I can still compete with the best, and that I am still the best.”
Good luck my friend. The XFL will be hosting showcases in eight different host cities to evaluate players for the inaugural season. Washington, DC’s showcase will take place June 15th in Springfield, VA. If you want to listen to the entire interview with Brandon Napoleon please click here.