KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Like many young athletes, Brandon Bye’s dreams of being a pro started when he was a kid.
“I’ve always thought about it since I was 8 or 10 years old,” Bye said.
Now a senior at Western Michigan University, he has a chance at making his dream a reality.
“I really just received an email and it said, ‘MLS. Congratulations,'” Bye told 24 Hour News 8.
He received an invitation to compete in the Major League Soccer combine in Orlando, Florida, which started Thursday. Only 60 players across the nation are invited.
Bye is the second Bronco to earn an invitation. Eric Pogue represented Western at the combine in 2001 before being selected 53rd by the New England Revolution.
“I was very surprised when it happened,” he said. “I called my parents right away and told them about the news. It’s a good feeling seeing that comes through, but it just means you’re invited.”
If Bye’s track record holds true, his appearance at the combine won’t be just for kicks. His individual accomplishments this season are the best Western has ever seen. He’s a first-team All-American and the reigning Mid-American Conference player of the year.
As a team, Western finished the year ranked ninth in the nation and beat Albany as it hosted its first NCAA tournament game.
“I really love the team aspect about the game,” Bye said. “We did some pretty special things this year as a program.”
At 6 feet tall and 185 pounds with agility and speed, Bye says his physical attributes will likely make him a defender at the pro level. But more than his raw athletic ability, his team-first mentality should appeal to any organizations.
“I’m not really particular saying I’d rather do this or that. Whatever they want to mold me in to, I’m up for the challenge,” Bye said. “I don’t really feel any pressure. I just play, have fun and hope for the best.”
The Major League Soccer draft runs Jan. 17 to Jan. 21 in Philadelphia. The first and second rounds are held on Jan. 19 and the third and fourth rounds Jan. 21.
***CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated Bye was the first Bronco invited to compete in the Major League Soccer combine in Orlando, Florida based on information provided by WMU. This story has since been corrected.***