Terps' Bragg a one-man gang

August 23, 1992|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- Jamie Bragg's coaches say he probably could man every position on the football field. And the former Severna Park High standout just might do so before his playing days are over.

You need someone to help out on the defensive line, with the ability to fill in at guard, tackle or end? Give Bragg a call.

A little thin at linebacker? What about at running back? Special teams?

"He can adapt anywhere," said Falcons coach Andy Borland.

With one starter ineligible and another lost to a knee injury, the 6-foot-1, 270-pound Bragg has been switched from defensive line to right offensive guard during summer practice at the University of Maryland.

"It was totally unexpected for me," Bragg said of the change, which was announced last week.

"I spoke to the coaches and, really, it was like a last-minute decision. It was like, 'We've got to do something,' so they decided one night to move me, Doug Catherman and Joe Bergstrom. I've never played the offensive line in my life.

"I had talked to my defensive line coach [Cliff Schwenke] three days before camp and he was all excited to get started. I was second-team defensive end, but basically he said I was going to play all three spots on the line."

That was before senior guard Dave deBruin failed his physical and sophomore tackle Dave Hack became academically ineligible, leaving the Terrapins thin on the offensive line.

And leaving Bragg, 21, vulnerable to another job change.

This is nothing new for him, of course. As a junior at Severna Park -- Bragg's first year on the football team -- his versatility left Borland wondering where to put him.

"He was 235 pounds with 4.6 speed, so he could play tailback," Borland said.

"He could throw the ball 70 yards in the air, so I could have made a quarterback out of him. He could catch the ball and he had huge hands, so I could have made a tight end out of him."

Borland settled on outside linebacker and tailback, and by the end of the season, Bragg had forced his way into the starting lineup.

A year later, he had become a captain, made first-team All-County and was good enough to earn a scholarship to Maryland.

Recruited as an outside linebacker and red-shirted his first season, Bragg moved to nose guard last fall under then-coach Joe Krivak. He played on the special teams and got into a few games on the defensive line, as the team struggled through a 2-9 season.

Krivak is gone, replaced by former Holy Cross coach Mark Duffner.

With a new coaching staff came a renewed enthusiasm within the program. And eventually, a new position for Bragg.

"We're more together and enthusiastic," Bragg said.

"It's first class in every way possible. They're trying to make a close-knit family, and they're doing a good job, a real good job. They're making it fun.

"That's the first losing team I was ever on. It was a learning experience -- one I don't want to repeat."

He has other lessons to learn, like how to ward off tacklers, instead of being one.

"We're starting from ground level with him," said offensive line coach Dan Dorazio, who also serves as offensive coordinator. "He has a chance to jump in there and help this football team, and he's adapted very well. His nose is always sticking in his playbook, he stays late after practice to work on stuff, and he asks questions after meetings. He stays on it."

Dorazio said it's too early to project Bragg's whereabouts on the depth chart.

"We don't have a depth chart right now," he said.

Bragg was reduced to spectator for most of Thursday morning's practice after a teammate rolled over his right ankle during a blocking drill. Bragg stood along the sideline with his helmet in one hand, his right shoe in the other, and an ice pack taped to the ankle.

"It's nothing serious," he assured a visitor. "I should be able to practice tomorrow."

Or maybe sooner. By the end of the morning session, he was telling Dorazio that he probably could take part in the afternoon drills.

That means more repetitions in his crash course on playing offensive guard.

"Coach Dorazio is being real patient with me," Bragg said. "There's more technique on offense than there is on defense. Once I learn the techniques, I think I'll be all right."

After all, life for Jamie Bragg has been one big adjustment. Remember the annual Big 33 high school football game after his senior year at Severna Park, when he arrived as an outside linebacker, but ended up inside.

"We didn't have anyone else who could play there," Borland said.

Anyone need a place-kicker?

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