Maryland the 'perfect deal' for Nick Brigham
Many prospective college football recruits have a dream school. Nick Brigham, however, had a dream coach.
Brigham, an offensive lineman from the Marist School in Atlanta, grew up rooting for Connecticut – his mother’s alma mater. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound junior watched the Huskies ascend from D-IAA competition to a BCS bowl under Randy Edsall.
“I hadn’t really been hearing from Maryland before Coach Edsall,” Brigham said. “I was hopeful, but I didn’t really know. I watched Maryland football growing up and loved the program. … [Then] they started showing heavy interest, and gave me the offer. When Coach Edsall got there, it just made it the perfect deal. That’s really what made it a great fit for me, and one of the reasons why I committed.”
Brigham visited College Park almost two weeks ago during his spring break, and pledged to the Terps shortly thereafter. Maryland was his first scholarship offer.
Brigham’s recent trip to Maryland wasn’t the first time he had a chance to meet Edsall. After his ninth-grade year, Brigham went to UConn’s summer football camp and earned MVP honors for the offensive line group. During that camp, Brigham got an up-close look at how Edsall operates.
“He’s a great guy, a really stand-up guy,” Brigham said. “It sounds weird, but I work better within a defined system. He’s a very organized coach. He tells you exactly what he expects from you, [and] explains what he wants. You do it, he loves you for it, and you’re one of his boys. If you tell me what to do, I’ll do it. I love working in that type of system. That’s how I was raised, how I grew up. That’s what I love about Coach Edsall.”
Marist coach Alan Chadwick inserted Brigham into his starting offensive line as a sophomore, with “exceptional” results. Junior year wasn’t quite as good, with Brigham battling a nagging ankle injury. But Chadwick has a pretty good idea of why Brigham was a coveted recruit for the Terps.
“He has a tremendously strong lower body, big thighs, big hips, great leg drive and he comes off [the ball] hard,” Chadwick said. “He really comes off and gets after it. He’s not just another big guy who lumbers off the ball. We’re an option-based team. We’re in the four-point stance, coming off hard and low every single time. That kind of tenacity and intensity, I think, is something that attracts peoples’ attention.”
The Maryland coaches didn’t have to do much selling on the merits of the football program to Brigham, who will likely play offensive guard for the Terps. What was of greater importance to Brigham was Maryland’s academic reputation. A 3.9 student who scored a 1,410 (out of 1,600) on the SAT, Brigham spent part of his visit to College Park meeting with advisers and professors in the chemistry and biology departments.
“I didn’t really know Maryland was such a good science school,” Brigham said. “I knew it was a very good university. When I actually went there, it was very advanced and up-to-date. Their science programs have so many opportunities in the job field. I love football, but I want to have an education that’s going to get me to the next step. Yeah, the NFL is a great dream. That’s definitely my goal. But if that doesn’t happen, I don’t want to have a college degree that’s not going to get me anywhere.”
Playing for Edsall and getting a good education were top priorities for Brigham, but he also wanted to make sure he felt comfortable on campus. Several of his relatives who played sports in college urged him to hold off on making a commitment until he found a school that put him completely at ease.
“They all told me, ‘when you go to the place you’re meant for, you’ll know it,’” Brigham said. “If you’re going to go somewhere, make sure you can go there even if you didn’t play a sport. What if something, God forbid, happens? Are you still going to be happy going to college there without sports?
"And so I went there, looked at it completely, objectively. Would I still love this campus even if I didn’t have football? And I said, yeah. I love the campus. It’s a great place academically, great professors, great football program, great coaches, great guys, great campus. It wasn’t really too hard of a decision to make.”