Eli Lucero, AP
Utah State's McKade Brady (36) tackles Wyoming wide receiver Robert Herron during their NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011, in Logan Utah.

Growing up in Cache Valley, it’s easy to become a dedicated Aggie fan. For some young children, that dedication turns into a goal; a goal to be a part of the pride, spirit and passion that is Aggie football.

At an early point in his life, Utah State senior safety and former Sky View High School standout, McKade Brady was one of those kids.

“It was always my dream to play up here when I was a little kid,” Brady said. “I grew up coming to games, watching Emmett White and guys like that. They were my heroes.”

Like so many consistent Aggie fans, Brady is quick to admit the teams he watched growing up weren’t always the most successful. Luckily, that didn’t make a difference in his goals, and he is one of 19 seniors on the Utah State roster working to build from the success of the 2011 football campaign.

Part of the reason student-athletes who are native to Cache Valley thrive at the college level is due to local fans and nearby family.

“It’s fun to be up here,” Brady said. “It’s fun to have your family and friends able to come to games. It’s a great support system.”

However, for Brady, the path to his career at Utah State wasn’t completely direct.

As a dual-athlete for Sky View, Brady’s collegiate career began not on the gridiron, but on the track. His success in high school, including a state title in the 400-meter, earned him plenty of attention from national recruiters.

Brady ended up at Brigham Young University, where he helped the Cougars earn Mountain West Championships in both indoor and outdoor competition in 2009. Along with running both the 200 and 400-meter races individually, Brady was a part of a 4x400-meter relay team that ran a school-best time of 3:06:60 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships that year.

After a year as a Cougar, Brady realized his true dream was to be back on the football field. After hearing of a walk-on position that had become available at Utah State, he jumped at the chance and moved home to Cache Valley.

“I just kind of had the itch to play football. I talked to my parents and decided that’s what I wanted to do,” Brady said. “So I transferred, walked on and went from there. Now this will be my second year on scholarship.”

In his first season as an Aggie, Brady played cornerback, making appearances in all 12 games during the 2010 season.

Last year as a junior, Brady started playing more of a dual role, adding safety to his repertoire. He became a leader for the secondary, finishing third on the team in tackles, behind former Aggie stars Bobby Wagner and Kyle Gallagher.

His standout performance came in the Nov. 5 game at former Western Athletic Conference rival Hawai’i. In that game, he recorded a then career-high 13 tackles in contributing to the one of the biggest comeback wins in school history; a win that catapulted USU to a five-game winning streak and its first bowl game since 1997.

Now, permanently at the safety position, Brady goes into his final season looking to continue as a leader and maintain the high level of work and effort he has been showing.

“This is more a natural position for him and the transition has been very smooth,” said associate head coach Bill Busch, who also works with the safeties. “He has tremendous work ethic, so it’s been easy for us.”

Busch said one of Brady’s biggest strengths is his constant willingness and consistency.

“He does everything at a high level all the time. A lot of people will claim to be consistent, but they’re consistently average,” Busch said. “McKade is great at practice, in the weight room, in academics, everywhere. That’s why he excels so much. He does a great job for us and we’re proud to have him.”

Brady said he has every intention of living up to the demands the coaching staff, his teammates and even himself have set.

“I have to be a playmaker. I have to be someone who is responsible and who can earn the respect of the other guys on the field,” Brady said. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to do my job, and they’ll be able to count on me. I know I count on them to do their job.”

As he finishes his collegiate football career, Brady said he has learned to weather tough times and that will be a blessing as he moves on with his life.

“A storm can come up at any time, and you can come upon rough times on the field, but you can battle through that. That’s something I can take into my life after football,” Brady said. “There will always be trials, but I can get through them. Just keep your head straight and keep working hard.”

Brady credits part of his drive and dedication to his new bride. He married the former Samantha Murray last May and said it has been a great addition to his life.

“Having a wife is awesome. She’s always helping out with things I need. I come home, and she’s cooked dinner, then she does the dishes,” Brady said. “She makes life a lot easier on me. Life is great.”

As the Aggies proceed through the 2012 campaign, Brady is ready to work toward the goals the team has set.

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“We accomplished a lot of our goals last year, but left two big ones on the table with the Western Athletic Conference title and winning a bowl game, so that’s what we’re after this year,” Brady said.

After a slight detour, Brady’s childhood dream of playing football for Utah State has more than come true. It’s something that will be a part of him forever and has played a vital role in who he is today.

“It’s an honor. It’s always been a dream of mine to be up here,” Brady said. “It’s great to be a part of this team, with this coaching staff, all these great guys I work with every single day.”

Megan Allen works for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.