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John Carroll alum Austin Brinkman closes out freshman football season at West Virginia

Austin Brinkman, a 2020 John Carroll School graduate, recently completed his first semester at West Virginia University, while also closing out a first season as a long snapper with the Mountaineers football team.

As a freshman, Brinkman was one of three long snappers on the roster with teammates ahead of him in senior and sophomore classes, respectively.

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Brinkman, who settled into his Morgantown dorm in August, never saw any game action, bur he was dressed and part of the team last week as West Virginia battled Army in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee.

West Virginia won the New Year’s Eve Bowl, 24-21, and Brinkman was happy to be a part of it. Brinkman says there were fans, but unsure of just how many. Fans were on both sides of the field behind their respective teams.

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“It was really cool, it was awesome just to have the experience,” Brinkman said. “I know with COVID, guys were saying, especially the seniors, they were like yeah, usually we come down here for a week. But I think the biggest thing that we talked about every day in our meetings leading up to it, it was just a big senior sendoff and giving them the right way to go out and I think being able to be there with them and experience that, it was just really cool.”

Austin Brinkman (#59, left of Bell trophy), a freshman member of the West Virginia University football team, celebrates with teammates last week after the Mountaineers 24-21 win over Army in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
Austin Brinkman (#59, left of Bell trophy), a freshman member of the West Virginia University football team, celebrates with teammates last week after the Mountaineers 24-21 win over Army in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. (Courtesy of Temitayo Adesokan/WVUfootball)

Despite the lack of play for Brinkman, a 6-4, 210 pound athlete, there was still the rigorous college team workout/practice schedule and with COVID impacts.

“During practices, when we were on the field our rule was either you have your helmet on or you have your mask on,” Brinkman said. “We had the clear face guards through our face masks and we had a little cloth mask attached to the bottom as well.”

Brinkman added, “I think we did a pretty good job with it, we never really had a big amount of guys out during the season. That never held us back. The way we handled it and the protocols we had in place were pretty spot on.”

Austin Brinkman, foreground, and roommate Danny King, settle in after arriving in Morgantown in August.
Austin Brinkman, foreground, and roommate Danny King, settle in after arriving in Morgantown in August. (Courtesy of Brinkman family)

With or without COVID, practice was different from Brinkman’s previous days at John Carroll or rec days.

“It was crazy, in the beginning it was a little nerve-wracking, especially because we had school and we were just starting that up,” Brinkman recalls. “The way it ended up working was, we had 6 a.m. lift, and then we would have breakfast after that. From after breakfast until about 1 or 2 o’clock, is when we would have to do all of our academic stuff. Then we came into the facility for practice. So we would have our snack or lunch and then meetings and then we would go into practice. After practice, that was the end of our day.”

At John Carroll, Brinkman was a long snapper for three seasons. In his senior year, he was the punter, in which he was named All-Harford First Team at that position. He also played quarterback and defensive back for the Patriots.

Brinkman was also a good student and he continued that in his first college semester.

A sports management major, Brinkman closed the semester with a 3.79 GPA.

Like the football schedule, though, the academic schedule was different than what he’d dealt with before. Although, Brinkman was already used to some online learning that started last Spring at John Carroll.

“I would say the only difference is that when we started doing the online learning at John Carroll, our teachers would send us the work in the morning and we would have all day to finish it,” he said. “Whereas, at college, it was during your class time, you would get your assignment, but it would be your assignments for the week and you would have to turn it in by Sunday at midnight.”

Class for Brinkman was every day, Monday through Friday. Some days had two classes.

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“We arrived on campus and got all of our classes and within the football program, we all had to be online because they didn’t want us to be going in the school and possibly get it (COVID) from the class,” Brinkman said. “So, all of our learning was online and we had tutors and learning specialists I guess, that kind of helped us through that.”

It didn’t seem to affect Brinkman. “I personally found it easier than trying to go to class and it was just more convenient. It fit, they made it work very well within our schedule,” Brinkman said. “There wasn’t a lot of free time in between that and football in oder to get the classwork done. You had do really well with your time management.”

Brinkman, a Bel Air resident, was in a dorm room with another player, Danny King, a kicker from Fort Hill High School in Cumberland.

“He had his classes, I had mine and sometimes we would have to go to a study room if we had class at the same time,” Brinkman said. “We made it work and it was nice that we were able to make it work, because if we couldn’t, it would be a bunch of talking and confusion.”

Back to football, Brinkman looks forward to continuing his spot as a long snapper. “I believe from what the coaches have been telling me is there will be a competition throughout the Winter and Spring and Fall camp, Brinkman said. “To see who the starter will be for next year.”

Brinkman is the son of Ken Brinkman, John Carroll head football coach, and Debbie Basler, Harford County Public Schools Supervisor of Athletics.

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