Brayden McCombs prepares for his first season as HC of Cruzeiro Futebol Americano in Brazil

Back in December, the Cruzeiro Futebol Americano, based in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, announced the signing of Brayden McCombs to a two-year contract to be their head coach. 

A native of the small town of Zillah, Washington, McCombs got into coaching at the Division I FCS level with Eastern Washington University, before eventually deciding to explore coaching opportunities abroad.  He landed in Brazil, where he joined the Goiania Rednecks as a head coach.  After a stint as offensive coordinator for Clube Atlético Mineiro in the 2022 season, he was named the head coach for Cruzeiro for the 2023 season and beyond. 

AFI chatted with McCombs about his background and upcoming opportunity.

AFI: So how did you get into football coaching?

McCombs: I grew up in a small town (Zillah, Washington).  Everybody in the town goes to the games on Friday nights, Saturday morning old men talking about the games, type of environment.  I idolized the players and coaches, ended up being able to play college ball, and just got into coaching after.  Nothing is like being on the football field, in front of the fans, and competing whether it be as a coach or as a player.

AFI: What led you to take up coaching American football outside of the US?

McCombs: Wanting some more experiences.  I was working in college football, with 60+ hour work weeks, and not making much money.  I loved what I did but wanted to have more of a story to tell when I was older besides work.

AFI: How did you end up coaching in Brazil?

McCombs: A team down here (Goiania Rednecks), messaged me on Europlayers.  And I didn’t have any interest at first about coming to Brazil, but they really did a great job about convincing me.  I stayed around here because the athletes and football here are really very impressive. They have the size, the speed, the athleticism; they really just need more coaching and experience.

AFI: What made you join Cruzeiro Futebol Americano for the upcoming season?

McCombs: They are a team with the right values and principles.  They want a team with a good culture, built with discipline and love for each other.  Also, they have youth teams, a women’s team, and much more, something that is rare here in Brazil.  When speaking with the management it was an ideal match in our ideas and how things should be done.

AFI: How would you describe your skill set as a coach?

McCombs: That’s a hard question man.  I think I am just somebody who loves coaching football, being on a football team, and being around a team environment.  And really pushing our players to be the best people they can be: respectable, humble, hardworking, and trustworthy people.  And if we can create people like that then we have good football players too. 

AFI: Anything else you’d like to add?

McCombs: I think just telling people in Europe and the rest of the world how great of athletes (Brazilian players are) and the level of football here in Brazil is something to respect and it is growing really fast.

A current student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carter played football in high school and has been a lifelong avid football fan.