Brigham said the key is remembering that he’s a student-athlete, and keeping the “student” part first.
The third baseman spent the last two years at South Georgia College, a junior college in Douglas, about 2½ hours southwest of Savannah. There, Brigham said he learned the right way to practice and study, and how to be independent.
“It got my feet wet in college,” he said “I got away from home for two years. It has been baby steps going to the next level. I learned the right way to practice, the right way to play.”
Brigham said it’s something he first learned from Cherokee coach Jason McDaniel and assistant Ben Sosebee.
“My high school coaches really did a good job getting me prepared for junior college, and then junior college prepared me for the next level,” Brigham said. “Coaches McDaniel and Sosebee demanded the best from us on and off the field. We were student-athletes first. They demanded excellence.”
Brigham garnered the attention of Savannah State last fall, when a member of the Tigers’ staff saw him play in a fall league. The two sides kept in touch through the winter and spring, and he made his commitment to Savannah State official when he wrapped up his junior college career.
Savannah State is an NCAA Division I program coming off a successful season. The Tigers went 33-23, won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship for the first time and made their debut appearance in the NCAA regionals.
In 53 games at South Georgia, Brigham batted .286 with a .339 slugging percentage. He hit nine doubles, 22 RBIs and drew 21 walks, while striking out just 12 times.
In high school Brigham picked out the school of his dreams. He pursued a baseball scholarship there, and the program seemed interested, but in the end, they opted to sign another player with the scholarship Brigham thought he would be offered.
“Coming out of high school, I had a pretty good run,” said Brigham, who was a key part of the Cherokee lineup. “I really didn’t understand the recruitment process coming out of high school. So much of it is getting your name out and I didn’t understand that. I had my heart set on one school. My coaches tried to help me along, but I was sort of thick-headed about it. When they signed the other kid, I was kind of heart broke. I didn’t really know which way to turn. Thankfully, South Georgia came calling and I found my way.”
In the end, Brigham says it worked out for the best. He got a lot of playing time at South Georgia, starting every game.
“It was a stepping stone for the next level,” he said. “I learned to play baseball at a higher level. Fortunately, it worked out like I wanted it to. Initially, it was a little disappointing, going to junior college, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Brigham won’t be alone making the transition. Two other players from South Georgia, Trey Sikes and Brandon Whitmore, will be making the move to Savannah State as well.
Brigham’s family is from Savannah and he has been there many times. He said it is a much larger area than Douglas, so that may be an adjustment in and of itself.
“Douglas is a small town with a lot of cotton, and there is nothing wrong with that,” Brigham said. “I come from a small town where everybody knows everybody, but what Douglas taught me was how to practice and play the right way and that is going to transfer to Savannah. Hopefully, I keep the values I learned at South Georgia and how to go out and practice.”
Still, Brigham is excited about the opportunity to continue to play baseball and earn a degree. And if the professional ranks come calling, he said he would take the chance.
“At this point, my goal is to be a student first,” Brigham said. “My parents always taught me to keep my grades up, so I want to do that and get my degree (in business administration). As far as baseball, if the professional thing comes around, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that to happen. I would love to get drafted. That is my next athletic goal.”