Balancing the college transition with school work can be difficult enough for freshmen, but for three of them on the football team, their experiences included additional challenges.
Dom Bragalone, Micco Brisker and Nick Thevanayagam are not only all freshmen on the football team, but they’re also all the same position: running back.
Lehigh football was in a tough situation at the end of the 2014 season, losing all three of its top running backs from the roster. However, this group of freshmen have taken their places and already made an impact in the position.
“At first the transition was kind of tough with the rigorous amount of football I had to do, but I’ve adjusted now, and I’m really starting to enjoy it,” Thevanayagam said. “It was a good learning experience going through camp and all, but I’ve been so prepared now from camp, so everything is just going smoothly.”
All three of these freshmen have seen playing time, especially Bragalone and Brisker, who have been the featured running backs for Lehigh this season. Bragalone topped the 100-yard mark in each of his first two games, totaling 114 yards against Central Connecticut State University and 103 yards and a touchdown against James Madison University.
Bragalone started again against University of Pennsylvania, but went down with a rib contusion and missed the second half. Brisker stepped in and surpassed the century mark himself, the first Lehigh running back to rush for over 100 yards since Nov. 1, 2014.
“Dom was off to a pretty good day before he got hurt, and Micco just stepped in and had 22 (carries) for 114 (yards) which is great to see,” said coach Andy Coen after the Penn game.
Brisker said that Bragalone was a great player and was impressed with how he’s performed in the first three games of the season.
“He’s got a lot of talent,” Brisker said. “He’s really fast, that’s definitely his top attribute. Once he gets in the open field there’s not a lot of guys who can catch him.”
Coen said Bragalone will play in Lehigh’s game this Saturday against Princeton University.
Also, Brisker is dealing with some injuries of his own. In addition to a hip pointer he suffered in the James Madison game, he broke his hand on Sept. 17 in practice. Despite this, he played the entire game against Penn without knowing it was broken.
“I didn’t think much of it at practice because it wasn’t hurting too bad,” Brisker said. “I played Saturday with it, and after the game it was still hurting really bad so I finally just told (the trainer).”
Brisker’s right hand is now in a cast, and if the doctors force him to wear it throughout the whole healing process, he said he could be out of action for about four weeks.
If that’s the case, it may be an opportunity for Thevanayagam to get more playing time. He had one carry for six yards against James Madison, but hasn’t played extensively thus far. He said that while he’s not sure how much he’ll play, he’s going to prepare to make sure he’s ready for anything.
One thing that goes beyond football is the connection and friendship the three have made. Thevanayagam said that he often spends time with both Bragalone and Brisker outside of football, whether it’s to study together or just hang out after practice.
“We’re very close — me, Micco and Dom — we always feed off each other, ask questions, give each other feedback on what to do,” Thevanayagam said. “I guess we’re like brothers in that aspect coming in together.”