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1/4/2007

The 2005 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo ended with Trevor Brazile in an unfamiliar spot. He was not on the world champion's podium at the Thomas & Mack Center, where he'd been each of the three previous years, but rather was on the sidelines after finishing third in the all-around world standings.

Sophomore sensation Ryan Jarrett was in that place after a blockbuster season made him the second-youngest PRCA world champion all-around cowboy in history. Brazile could have pouted or taken a sour outlook to the 2006 season, but he did just the opposite.

In a word, he was determined.

Brazile (Decatur, Texas) hit the ground running, picking up paychecks left and right at virtually every rodeo he entered. Early on in the season, it was clear he would be a force to be reckoned with.

If the other guys only knew.

Not only did Brazile finish this season with his fourth career all-around world title, he won it with a PRCA record $329,924, breaking Matt Austin's record of $320,766 from 2005. He clinched the all-around title after Round 8, then finished off his 2006 season by setting the earnings record.

Along the way, Brazile became the seventh — and youngest — member of the PRCA's $2 million club and won his first single-event world title in steer roping after six career runner-up finishes. Brazile spent most of the season with the rest of the ProRodeo world in his rear-view mirror, and he set out early on to make sure he wouldn't have to watch someone else win the all-around title.

"All that was going through my thoughts all year was to win," said Brazile, who qualified for the Wrangler NFR in team roping and tie-down roping. "I didn't want to leave anything to chance, and when it was all said and done, I didn't want to say, 'If I'd only done this.' Just like any athlete, you don't want to hold anything back. You've got to leave it all out on the field. Then you don't have any doubts at the end of the day."

Rather than ask where Brazile won titles this year, it would be far easier to ask where he didn't win them. The 30-year-old won 12 all-around titles, eight team roping crowns, 12 tie-down roping titles and nine steer roping events.

He was the big winner during the PRCA's Fourth of July run, known as Cowboy Christmas, on his way to eclipsing the $2 million mark. Brazile won $24,894 during that week to take an even more commanding lead in the all-around world standings.

Brazile used the 2005 derailment as motivation for this year.

"I won't take any part of it (winning a world title) for granted anymore," Brazile said. "Getting on that stage and listening to those fans is worth all the fast-food diets we have to live on and the all-night drives. It makes it worthwhile."

The talented all-around hand was more than pleased with his record-setting season.

"You could look back on the week or the year and see a few things you'd like to change, but when I set out this year, I wanted to win the all-around buckle," Brazile said. "In pursuit of that, I came away with another gold buckle in the steer roping and the season earnings record. I'm really tickled with the year, and I've really been blessed."

His season was clicking along when Brazile injured his groin at a rodeo in October. That injury kept him from excelling at the PRCA's final Tour Finale in Dallas in November.

"I was really frustrated and worried career-wise about what I was going to do because I wasn't able to be competitive at all in Dallas," Brazile said. "This (the Wrangler NFR) was two or three weeks away, and I was really struggling and wondering what I was going to do. They said I was going to have to have surgery to get well and that I wouldn't get better without that. My healing between Dallas and here was remarkable. I was able to feel a lot more competitive than I was previously, so I'm in a good frame of mind right now and think it's just going to keep getting better."

He recovered enough to win $63,828 at the Wrangler NFR in the team roping and tie-down roping en route to the earnings record. Brazile roped with eight-time world champion heeler Rich Skelton all season, and the duo placed in five of the 10 rounds at the Wrangler NFR. In tie-down roping, Brazile also placed in five rounds to finish third in the final tie-down roping world standings.

His prowess as a steer roper netted him $87,090 of that record total, as well as a gold buckle. So far, Brazile has five world championship buckles heading into 2007.

Brazile was due to have another evaluation of his injury following the Wrangler NFR, and he may have to "safety up" for the beginning of the 2007 season, but there's little doubt he'll be the man to beat next year.

He certainly was in 2006.

"Any time you start out and you exceed your goals, it's a neat feeling," Brazile said of his 2006 campaign. "The first time I won the world, I was just out to make as much money as I could and to make a living. This year, everything was toward a common goal."

Once again, Brazile accomplished a professional cowboy's ultimate goal.