Bragg Settling In

Switching positions is never easy. This year, it's running back Travis Thomas moving over to the defense to play linebacker. Last season, a switch was made by head coach Charlie Weis and staff that received far less fanfare. Darrin Bragg, a quarterback coming into Notre Dame, was moved to wide receiver.

A year later, Bragg is settling into his new role. The 6-1, 192-pound junior is in the running to get some reps at wide receiver behind Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight. Sophomore David Grimes appears to be in the lead for the third spot. But in Weis's creatively efficient offense, any skill position player has the ability to put up numbers.

"It pushes me to know that there are people behind me," Bragg said. "You can't have a day off. You can't take a play off because we're watching it in film. It's been going good though. Reps or no reps, I have to keep my concentration and stay motivated and hopefully keep practicing well.

"I'm working on the little things, like getting out of my breaks, running my routes and being more physical. I switched to wide receiver last year and this being my second camp around, I'm better. I am definitely getting more comfortable with it. Learning the offense was a lot easier coming from quarterback."

Bragg will get a chance to shine on Monday night. The Irish are having a practice at that time inside Notre Dame Stadium. The coaches are going to be on the sidelines and see who steps up in game situations. For Bragg, it's a big opportunity to impress people.

"We have to show our coaches that we can show up when the time calls for it," Bragg said. "Tomorrow is going to be a great example of how we play in a game. Tomorrow is going to be a big night for everyone.

"I hope the ball gets thrown my way. I'll try to make a few plays. I can't take a play off. Playing wide receiver is more than just catching the ball. You have to block and know your assignment. Hopefully, no balls thrown my way or not, I can make a few plays and show up."

Bragg has two good players at his position to learn from. Samardzija was an All-American last year with his 15 touchdown grabs and 1,249 yards receiving. McKnight led the team in yards and receptions in 2003 and 2004 before injuring himself in the Michigan game last season. McKnight is closer to the type of receiver that Bragg emulates himself after.

"One thing I definitely have learned from them is getting off the line faster against press coverage," Bragg said. "That's one of the things they do real well. I watch them everyday on film. I watch Rhema come out of his breaks and he comes out so fast. My position is the X so I watch him as much as possible."

He also put in a lot of work with Quinn in the off-season to develop that comfortable quarterback-wide receiver relationship.

"This summer, we worked out a lot," Bragg said. "It was always to get that extra work in on our own time. Coming from quarterback to wide receiver, it's easier because I know what he's looking for in defenses and coverages. That's a little advantage coming from quarterback to wide receiver."

His position coach is Rob Ianello. He deserves some of the credit for the success of Samardzija and the graduated Maurice Stovall in 2005. Bragg likes the fact that Ianello strives to make his players perfect in every facet of the position.

"He makes sure you're on your game at every point, even if it's blocking or catching," Bragg said. "He wants us to be a complete wide receiver. He doesn't want us to take a play off. He wants us to run everything out and get us tired. He emphasizes those things everyday in practice. He's not like Coach Weis is but he'll get on you."

This season could be the first that Bragg plays. After not seeing action in 2004 at the quarterback position, Weis moved Bragg to wide receiver before the start of the 2005 season. The success of Samardzija, Stovall and others pushed Bragg way down the depth chart. He did earn offensive player of the week honors on the look team for his role as quarterback leading up to the Navy contest. This year, Bragg hopes that it's not just practice where he can contribute to the team.

"It was a little frustrating at first," Bragg said about not playing his first two seasons. "My freshman year, I redshirted. Last year, I didn't get to play much. I'm very excited for this year. I also got special teams. Hopefully if I don't play wide receiver, I can get into the mix on that. I can do all those things and try to help the team out wherever they need help." Top Stories