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As Maryland career ends, Roman Braglio has NFL, family farm among future possibilities

If Roman Braglio doesn't make it to the NFL, he could have a future in the family business: farming.

Roman Braglio finds himself getting emotional these days when thinking about playing his final Maryland football game in Tuesday's Quick Lane Bowl against Boston College at Detroit's Ford Field.

A lot of things — from a practice to a positional meeting to a conversation with his father or with quarterback Perry Hills, Braglio's longtime roommate and a fellow fifth-year senior — can trigger tears from the 6-foot-2, 262-pound defensive end.

It started last month, when Braglio's father went to Maryland's final road game of the season in Lincoln, Neb. Scott Braglio took a unique mode of transportation to watch the Terps play the Cornhuskers: He drove one of the team's equipment trucks.

"I said to him, 'Look, you have never missed a game — high school, college, it never mattered whether it was home or away,'" Roman Braglio said. "I told him how much I appreciated it and how much it took for him to drop everything to see me play."

Whether or not Braglio's father gets to see him play again after Tuesday depends a lot on how his younger son does during Maryland's Pro Day leading up to the draft, since it's unlikely that he will be invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February.

Braglio understands that this could be the end of a career that began as an 8-year-old in Howard County.

"I think about it being the last game as a Terp," Braglio said. "After this, I'm going to try everything I have to see if I can make it [in the NFL]. It's almost surreal. Talking to Perry, 'When we leave here, do you want to meet up on Saturdays, what are we going to do?'

"I told him that I'd probably miss just the competition. I have stuff scheduled for me, every single day. Be here at this time, do this at this time. When I leave here, it's all up to me. I've got to make grown-man choices."

It comes at the end of a senior year that began with Braglio breaking his hand in the opener against Howard, according to his father.

"Playing with one hand in the Big Ten makes it a little difficult," said Scott Braglio, 54.

Despite the injury, the younger Braglio did not miss a game, though he seemed to struggle down the stretch, including making just one tackle in the regular-season finale against Rutgers. He finished the regular season with a career-high 42 tackles, and tied a career high with three sacks.

"Roman's had a pretty consistent year for us. Obviously his productivity in some games has been better than others, something to do with that injury he had early on, but he's played hard and he's really been a good leader for us," first-year Maryland coach DJ Durkin said during a teleconference Tuesday.

If Braglio doesn't make it to the NFL, he and his father will likely be seeing a lot of each other. An agricultural and resource economics major, Braglio intends to go into the family business — raising Charolais cattle for its farm-to-table restaurant and bar, the Woodstock Inn, in Howard County.

"We've kind of had the talk of what I'm going to do, what's going to happen," Braglio said. "I'm sure my dad doesn't want me under his roof for that long anymore. He gives me projects sometimes. I wrote a small business plan and showed him I am learning something in college."

The property on which the family lives dates back to when Braglio's great-grandfather, Joseph Braglio, and grandfather, Wayne, bred, raised and ran racehorses all over the region, including a half-sister of the legendary Secretariat named Walking Ambition.

"We won a lot of races with her," Scott Braglio said. "My grandfather raced horses with Man o' War and all that stuff. We had so many racehorses. He won a bunch of races at Timonium, Pimlico. I got schlepped around when I was a kid to every damn race course on the East Coast."

After his father passed away from a heart attack two days before Christmas in 2000 at age 60, and one of the two remaining racehorses broke its leg and had to put down, Scott Braglio eventually started filling the 25-acre farm with cows, pigs and chickens.

In the past two years, he has bought three neighboring farms along Hernwood Road and now has around 110 acres and 60 head of cattle — both grass-fed and grain-fed — with plans to expand the business beyond the Woodstock Inn.

"The reason you need additional land, everyone's on this grass-fed beef thing," Scott Braglio said. "Everybody wants more healthier products. I just killed one our first grass-fed beef animals about two weeks ago and sold it."

The most recent acquisition, a 30-acre property, was made a couple of weeks ago.

"I'll probably end up giving that to Roman for graduation," Scott Braglio said. "I'll tell him, 'Here you go, you've got your own farm. … I'm setting the foundation and laying the groundwork for Roman. I did the same thing for my older son."

Tony Braglio, 33, took an ATM business his father started and "expanded it from two ATMs to 3,000," Scott Braglio said proudly.

A three-star prospect at McDonogh, Roman Braglio was also recruited by West Virginia, Penn State, Tennessee, Nebraska and Boston College, but chose Maryland. It was not simply an opportunity to play. It was also for his family — particularly his father — to see him play.

"I've been to every one of his games — football, lacrosse, wrestling — since he was 8," said Scott Braglio, who raised his two sons as a single father after their mother, who passed away two years ago, moved to Tennessee when Roman was young.

Braglio was the second player who committed to Maryland after Randy Edsall replaced Ralph Friedgen in January 2011. While Mike Madaras, who started as a freshman, quit the team after his sophomore year and later transferred to Albany, Braglio redshirted as a freshman and persevered.

"Looking back now, it's hard to believe it's been five years," Braglio said recently. "It's been such a learning experience, not just in football but in every day how to do things. You learn a lot about who you are and what you have do to become successful."

Having come in to play for one new coaching staff, Braglio is leaving as the Terps grow accustomed to another in their first season under Durkin.

"It's all part of building. There's so much room to grow, there's a lot of potential, especially with the new staff and the players coming in," Braglio said. "You've just got to look at every day as an opportunity to make the team better and make yourself better."

Braglio will move to Atlanta in early January to start working with a trainer who will help him prepare for his Pro Day. Scott Braglio said his younger son is prepared for whatever he faces after graduation.

Deep down inside, the father is conflicted about what's ahead for both of them.

"He understands that some people make it and some people don't," the elder Braglio said. "If you don't, you move on. I'd love to see him make it [to the NFL] and on the other hand, I'd love to see him at home, too. Everybody asks me, 'Do you have any partners?' I say, 'Absolutely, I've got both my boys.' There's no better teacher than life itself. I support him no matter what."

There will be one more Maryland game for Scott Braglio, too. As he did with the game at Nebraska, he drove one of the equipment trucks to Detroit on Wednesday. He left right after his son's graduation ceremony at Xfinity Center.

Scott Braglio hopes to have some company on the way back.

"I told Roman, when they release him to me at the end of the game and sign off, 'I just might put you in the truck with me and I'll have your undivided attention as you transition into manhood,'" he said.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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