The rumors floated through the air and conspiracy theories were discussed.
Preseason workout photos were examined and social media accounts were dissected.
At a recent gathering of Northwest Indiana football coaches to preview the upcoming season, the question as to whether or not star running back Brae’ton Vann was returning to Boone Grove or transferring somewhere else, such as Merrillville, was seemingly on everyone’s mind.
One Greater South Shore Conference coach said he spent some time looking at a photo Boone Grove tweeted out and “couldn’t find Vann anywhere in it.” To say this made the coach excited about the prospect of not having to face Vann would be an understatement.
That excitement would be understandable as Vann dominated the Greater South Shore Conference last season to the tune of 1,702 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns on the ground. Add in nearly 200 receiving yards and another three touchdowns through the air and Vann delivered a “Heisman” type season for the Wolves.
So will he be continuing to terrorize GSSC coaches this season or will Vann be moving to Broadway with a new purple and black uniform?
“I heard that rumor, too,” Vann said. “That I was going to Merrillville, that I was going somewhere else. I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.”
The one place that Vann has been going a lot this offseason has been the weight room. One look at the 5-foot-9 running back and it’s clear that he’s added another layer of muscle since last season.
“It’s been almost every day,” Vann said of lifting weights. “I ran track, just working on my speed and then I started working on my strength.”
All that work is being done with a goal in mind. Vann does want to play for another football team, but not until he’s finished what he’s started with Boone Grove. Then, it will be off to college and thoughts of a possible destination have consumed Vann’s mind. He wants a Division I school, to play at the highest possible level, and he knows there’s a lot of work to be done.
“I’m definitely nervous about it all,” Vann said. “I’ll know more later in the year. Sometimes I do think about (my rushing) numbers, but I look at the team first. I’m close with my offensive line, we joke around a lot and we’re all in this together.”
Managing Vann and the rest of Boone Grove’s team is the job that sits in front of third-year coach Dan Kukulski this season, and he knows it will be a challenge. For as talented as Vann is, the opposing defenses know how important the running back is to the Wolves’ success.
“The key with Brae’ton is just to instill in him that teams are going to try and key on him all season long,” Kukulski said. “We’ve got to be ready for that. Our offensive line is going to be a key to our success. We don’t have the biggest guys, but with Brae’ton’s speed, we’ve got guys that can pull and get around the defense.”
“Brae’ton has also recognized that being stronger is what keeps you healthier. He’s put in lot of work in the weight room. He’s not a little kid anymore.”
Time will tell where Vann plays football at the next level, but for the time being, Vann is right back where he's always been.
"We're ready for this season," Vann said. "I'm positive we've got one of the best teams in the conference."