Roman Braglio was a pretty big kid when he joined McDonogh’s varsity football team as a ninth-grader, and Dom Damico certainly recognized that. But the Eagles coach had another observation that football fans don’t typically associate with linemen.
“I thought he could run like a free safety,” Damico said. “I just thought -- depending on how big he gets -- how good he was going to be matching up that size with speed. He grew to 240 pounds, 6-3, 6-4, and still runs like that. Most kids that can run that fast aren't that big. Luckily he kept that speed and athleticism along with him growing.”
Braglio’s unique combination of size and speed served him well during his first three seasons of high school football – so well that he was one of the first class of 2012 prospects to earn a Maryland offer. Braglio committed before the end of his junior year, and then spent his entire senior season making the Terps coaches look smart for their early offer.
“He was our most dominant player,” Damico said. “He played both ways. He rarely came off the field. I think he was dominant on both sides.”
At left tackle, Braglio’s “incredible feet and athleticism” were on display in pass protection and run blocking. And at defensive end – the position he’ll play at Maryland – Braglio was a force off the edge, recording 83 tackles and 16 sacks. Damico was impressed by the future Terp’s production, especially considering the fact that he rarely left the field and was facing top-flight MIAA A Conference competition on a weekly basis.
Two plays in particular from Braglio’s senior season stand out to Damico: a 75-yard fumble return for a touchdown and a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown.
“Both plays showed great athleticism, with his 4.6 speed, and just the ability to get into the end zone,” Damico said. “I just think his general toughness and ability to play hard both ways … is really tough to do, especially when you're a lineman. You're playing 130 snaps a game against really good competition. I think that's probably the most demanding thing you could probably ask a kid to do in high school football.”
When college coaches first started recruiting Braglio, they relayed to Damico just how impressed they were with his size and speed. As the McDonogh coach likes to say, Braglio “can run with the skill guys.” That trait could serve the defensive end well in College Park sooner rather than later.
“The new defense they're going to run is kind of an NFL-style defense,” Damico said. “When they're in the 3-4 defense, he'll be an edge rush guy. He'll be a stand-up defensive end or an outside linebacker and have the ability to stay there and play the run and also rush the passer.”
Apart from Damico’s respect for Braglio’s physical attributes, the longtime Eagles coach has also been impressed with his star lineman’s “physical toughness and his leadership.” Braglio could be just the type of defensive leader the Terps need.
“The kid has a personality that kids will follow, and he's extremely tough and he practices hard,” Damico said. “Kids follow him. I'm hoping those leadership qualities that he had at McDonogh will go to Maryland and he'll get a bunch of kids there that practice like he does and compete like he does. Maryland will be a much better team if they can find more kids to come in like Roman.”