In the spring of 2016, Pat Narduzzi extended an offer to 3-star linebacker Cam Bright, a prospect out of Ohio’s North Ridgeville High School. Bright, who eventually spent his senior season at Park Crossing High School in Alabama, committed to Pitt a few months later, and he is now contributing at linebacker and on special teams as a redshirt-freshman.
Two years later, there is a new Bright on the scene at North Ridgeville who is beginning to make a name for himself.
Cam’s brother, Cael, is a 5-foot-10 inch, 170-pound athlete in the Class of 2020. Having just finished his junior season, the recruiting process is just beginning for North Ridgeville’s safety/running back. The only school to initiate contact thus far is Michigan State, and Cael visited East Lansing this weekend for the Spartans’ matchup versus Ohio State. However, with a school like Michigan State reaching out, it is only so long before more FBS programs follow suit. Pittsburgh Sports Now spoke to Cael – along with his father, Cameo Bright – to learn more about his outlook on the recruiting process that lies ahead.
“I’m interested in any college,” said Cael. “I’ll be thankful no matter what, for any college, if they offer me … I just want to play ball at the next level.”
Although he has yet to hear from Pitt, Cael is well acquainted with the university and its football program. Throughout Cam’s recruitment, Cael would accompany his brother on visits, witnessing much of the Pitt recruiting experience firsthand. He also attends the Panthers’ home games when possible, especially this season with Cam receiving playing time. Thanks to his established familiarity with Pitt, Cael can already offer an informed opinion on the university.
“I like everything. They have a nice facility. They treat my brother nice from what I hear. And their play style on defense, I like how they do stuff with their DB’s, and they’re always active. Going to practice, watching them practice is real nice, seeing how they do things and how they operate – it’s a nice thing to see and have the opportunity to see stuff like that, because most people don’t get to see that all the time and have a brother that goes to the college. It’s nice. I like that program.”
Of course, one perk that only Pitt can potentially offer is the opportunity to play alongside his brother.
“That would mean a lot to me,” said Cael. “I always wanted to play with my brother growing up. You know, he’s three years old than me. If I got to go to the next level and play with him, I know he’ll push me to the max that I can go, and he’ll want me to work harder than him. So that would mean a lot to me.”
Cameo, who has already sent one son to Pitt, echoed Cael’s sentiment.
“Pitt would be a dream for a father, as well,” he said.
At North Ridgeville, Cael’s primary positions are safety and running back, although his versatility allows him to contribute at other positions on both sides of the ball. While watching his junior season highlight video, one will see a player who performs all of the duties that can be asked of a safety at any level: he drops deep into zone coverage; he provides man coverage in the slot; he shows both discipline and relentless pursuit in the box; and he rushes off the edge. As a running back, he shows vision, patience, agility, and a willingness to fight for the extra yard. He will even track down returnmen on special teams. And no matter if it’s on offense, defense or special teams, he plays through the whistle; there are multiple occasions where Cael is seemingly out of the play, yet he perseveres and ends up making the tackle.
Cael’s on-field achievements are a direct result of natural ability (he claims to have run a 4.6 40-yard dash at the last camp he attended) and a tenacious work ethic, both of which he attributes to his parents.
“My parents have really good genes,” Cael said. “They passed that down to me. And the work ethic I have from my father – we’ll always work hard no matter where we’re at. And he made sure I was nice and powerful for my size. I knew I was going to have a disadvantage this year, knowing that I was still growing. My body size is a little small. I just try to work hard, make sure every play is like my last play, and push through everything. Try my hardest, go 110%.”
Despite his current body size, Cael performed admirably for North Ridgeville this year. However, the Rangers finished with a 4-6 record, which sours the season’s overall assessment for a team-oriented player like Bright.
“For me, I reached some of my personal goals. But I wish our team would have made it farther and had a better record, because we did have a pretty good team this year. We just couldn’t connect as a team and go farther like we should have.”
As a player who prefers to deliver a jarring hit over scoring a touchdown, Cael foresees himself playing safety – specifically strong safety – in college. He has a busy offseason ahead as he prepares for his senior year and the collegiate career that should follow. In the upcoming months, Cael will be participating in track and baseball, and will balance these activities with rigorous workouts.
“I’m going to get in the weight room a lot, getting myself better, preparing myself better … And I’m going to be going to a lot of camps with my father over the offseason.”
As he prepared for his official visit to the University of Pittsburgh, Cam told Pittsburgh Sports Now that he would be working out at 4:30 in the morning, a time when many people would rather hit the “snooze” button than hit the weight room. When asked if such early morning workouts are part of his routine, too, Cael replied, “Yes, sir. Of course.”
Cael undoubtedly shares a lot of impressive qualities with his older brother, at least regarding how they approach and play the game of football. From a personality perspective, they do differ slightly, with Cameo describing Cael as more extroverted, and Cam as more of an introverted individual. However, Cael mentioned one crucial difference that separates the two:
“I’m better than him,” he asserted.
Whether Cael is indeed better than Cam is an issue the two brothers can take up with one another, perhaps at 4:30 a.m. in a weight room this offseason. Athletes don’t surpass previous limitations by being coddled, though, and it is clear that the Bright’s push one another to new heights with this competitive mentality.
And this is why it doesn’t seem like a baseless promotion when Cael says, “Just be ready” for what he has in store next.