FOOTBALL: Bragg returns to ND, becomes third-string QB
Jay Fitzpatrick | Friday, October 5, 2007
Five months ago, Darrin Bragg wasn’t on Notre Dame’s football team. Now he’s the third-string quarterback.
Over the summer, the senior Film, Television and Theater major was an intern at 20th Century Fox under Executive Vice President of Production Jim Sharp. Bragg said he was on the set when Notre Dame Director of Football Operations Chad Klunder called him in July and asked him if he would return to the Irish.
“I was in the middle of work and they said, ‘We need you to come back and play quarterback,'” Bragg said. “And I’m like ‘OK, sure. Why not? What am I going to say, no?'”
Former head coach Tyrone Willingham recruited Bragg as a quarterback out of Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, Calif. But when Willingham was fired after the 2004 season, new head coach Charlie Weis moved Bragg to wide receiver.
“I always wanted the ball every time the quarterback dropped back. I always thought, ‘I’m open,’ even if I was covered,” Bragg said. “[Being a quarterback] helped out playing receiver because you knew if there was a hot [read] or something you knew what to do.”
Bragg did not see any time as a wide receiver in his two seasons at that position and decided in May that he would leave the team. Bragg thought he was treated somewhat unfairly as a receiver before he left the team.
After the semester ended, Bragg went to Los Angeles to begin his internship with Fox, thinking that – even though he was still coming back to Notre Dame – he was done with football.
“When I left school in May I thought I was probably going to be done next year,” he said. “But then I got the call, and it was exciting – and I thought, ‘Sure, why not?'”
Bragg said he was unsure if the call was true since he had only quit the team two months before he was asked to come back.
“I called them back and I was shocked,” he said. “I called [quarterbacks] coach [Ron] Powlus and a couple of other coaches to make sure they weren’t pulling my chain,” Bragg said. “I was like, ‘Really? Are you sure?'”
Bragg said he did not know why the coaching staff decided to bring him back or if it was before or after sophomore quarterback Zack Frazer transferred to Connecticut. Either way, he appreciates head coach Charlie Weis for giving him a second chance to play Division I football.
After the call, Bragg began to train to return to quarterback – what he calls his more natural position.
“I started training, I started running and throwing and stuff like that because I hadn’t thrown a ball in like two or three years,” he said.
Bragg has made his mark on the scout team and has moved up to third on the depth chart after Demetrius Jones left the University earlier this season.
“Darrin’s doing a fine job for us,” Powlus said. “It’s good to see him running around, participating. It helps us out on scout team, it helps us out wherever we need him, whenever we need him.”
Even though Bragg is happy to have returned to quarterback, he is even more excited to play at UCLA, where he knows a lot of the players. His brother Craig played wide receiver for the Bruins from 2001-04.
“[Craig] said they’re going to smash us and that if he was playing they’d have 400 yards receiving,” Bragg said. “But it’s going to be fun playing them.”
Bragg also said that his emotions haven’t changed much since he returned to the team, but that things will probably change by the Duke game Nov. 17 – his final home game as a Notre Dame student.
“I think it will be much more important for the last home game, suiting up instead of being in the stands watching it, so I’m really glad I came back just for that last game,” Bragg said.
“I could never imagine going from playing quarterback to a new coach … and moving to receiver and then moving to quarterback,” he said. “In four years, that’s not how you really plan out to be. It’s been fun. It’s been a great ride so far.”