Estevan Barragan will find out this week if he’ll be able to play football again for Fresno State this season.
The former Central Valley High School standout running back fractured the middle and index fingers on his right hand at practice this past week.
“I’ve been doing treatment on my hand to get the movement back,” said Barragan, a redshirt freshman who gained an extra year of eligibility due to the coronavirus pandemic. “I can’t bend my middle finger. It hurts. It’s my dominant hand. I can’t even write. I see a specialist (today). Hopefully, I hear good news and he tells me I can practice with a cast. I love this game so much. It’s been a long road. The injury is just another obstacle I have to overcome. God is testing me mentally.”
Barragan suffered the injury during a live scrimmage.
“I was running the ball, stiff armed someone and heard a pop in my fingers,” he said. “My finger next to my pinkie was bent sideways to the left. My middle finger was on top. It looked really bad. I didn’t even feel it because of the adrenaline.
Barragan scored two rushing touchdowns and caught a pass while practicing the next day.
“I wanted to show the coaches that this is not going to stop me,” he said.
Fresno State opened the 2020 season with a 34-19 loss to Hawaii on Oct. 24 at Bulldog Stadium.
Barragan suited up for the game.
He was a second-string player on special teams.
“I enjoy every moment I have when I get to put on that uniform,” he said.
Barragan watched from the stands as host Fresno State pulled away for a 38-17 victory over Colorado State on Oct. 29.
“I would have had a chance to get on the field because we did really well as a team,” he said. “A lot of the freshmen played.”
Fall sports had been postponed on Aug. 10 due to COVID-19.
The Bulldogs are supposed to play an eight-game schedule.
The Mountain West Championship Game is scheduled for Dec. 19.
Fresno State will have no spectators at its home games.
“We haven’t had any positive cases,” said Barragan, who gets tested for COVID-19 three times a week. “I’m thankful. Our coaches always remind us to be safe and make smart choices. COVID still exists and you can get it from anybody.”
Barragan, who stands just 5-foot-7 and weighs 170 pounds, beat the odds last fall by earning a roster spot at Fresno State.
He made history by becoming the first student-athlete from Central Valley High School to suit up for an NCAA Division-I football program.
Barragan helped prepare Fresno State’s starting defense for games as a scout-team running back.
He suited up for all of the Bulldogs’ home contests in 2019.
He stood on the sidelines but didn’t log any playing time.
Fresno State compiled a 4-8 overall record and tied for last in the Mountain West standings (2-6).
“Most of my teammates know my story,” Barragan said. “They know the challenges I’ve faced. I’m trying to learn how to become a better running back and teammate. I always attack practice like I have nobody’s respect. You have to earn respect every day. I’m working on getting a scholarship.”
The Bulldogs have a total of seven running backs on their roster this season.
Ronnie Rivers is the starter. He earned second-team all-Mountain West Conference honors as a junior.
Rivers rushed for 948 yards and 13 touchdowns, both team-highs, on 177 carries.
He also caught 43 passes for 352 yards and three TDs.
“I learned a lot from our old coach (Jeff Tedford),” Barragan said. “He (assistant head coach, running backs/run game coordinator Lee Marks) has helped me understand the game more. I get treatment, watch film and work out on off days.”
Barragan graduated from Central Valley High School in 2018.
He was a standout at the varsity level for three seasons.
Barragan was named the Western Athletic Conference’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player his senior year.
He rushed for 1,111 yards and 13 touchdowns.
He hauled in 31 passes for 503 yards and two TDS.
Barragan earned second-team all-league honors on defense.
He had 110 tackles, one interception, two pass deflections and one forced fumble at safety.
Barragan was a first-team all-league defensive selection his junior and sophomore years.
Barragan’s teams at Central Valley also experienced success.
The Hawks amassed a 21-11 overall record, won one conference title and qualified for the playoffs twice from 2015-17.
“This is the sport I love and I’m glad I’m still playing,” Barragan said. “I know how hard it was to get here. It wasn’t easy.”