Before he even played a down in college, we had been hearing about Bryce Brown. The running back from Wichita was the nation’s top recruit according to Rivals.com in 2009, and his drama-filled process was must-see Internet.
Where to begin? Well, he committed to Tennessee after delaying his announcement, saw his advisor investigated by the NCAA, saw his dealings with Miami looked into as well, left Tennessee, transferred to Kansas State… and played one game.
Brown was, of course, one of the biggest college busts in history. Rarely has a player had such hype and done so little. To be honest, after he washed out at K-State, I stopped paying attention. I figured it was over, that he’d fade to dark.
Then, from nowhere, he made the Eagles. Um, what?? And what’s even crazier is that he’s pretty good. He may be really good. The 6-foot, 220-pounder may be Philly’s No. 2 running back, though he had just three carries for seven yards and a fumble against the Ravens. But before all that… I wanted to know more.
My questions to Brown were essentially based in this line of thought: What the heck are you doing here?
Brown explained to me: “I’m here. People made the decision, God gave me this opportunity and blessed me. That’s the reason I’m here.”
When it didn’t work out at two colleges, after all the buildup, did he think he still had a chance to play in the NFL?
“I always knew this is what I wanted to do,” Brown told me. “This is where I wanted to play professional football. It was never a thought, ‘Oh, college didn’t work out, I’m not playing football.’ That’s just not my thought process, that’s not my thoughts. My supporting staff back at home, people I surround myself with, that was not a thought. It was never a thought to be distracted or get down on myself.”
Ability was never really a question for Brown. He impressed during his freshman year at UT, just as he did in the preseason for the Eagles. That’s why, when he never contributed anything in college, he kept training. Brown felt he still had a chance, and when Kansas State allowed him to run at Pro Day, there it was.
“For me, it was simple,” Brown said. “I never stopped working. Just because I wasn’t on any team when I decided to leave Kansas State. It wasn’t like I decided to go sit on a couch, do nothing. I went, I continued to work and I got this opportunity. That’s why I was able to capitalize on it. I did not know I’d have the opportunity, but I know you’re not going to get the opportunity doing nothing. So, it was, do something, just in case it did come.”
Now that he’s made the Eagles — and a ton of baggage behind him — Brown has high hopes. He still believes he’s a unique talent who can become a major player. The fact that it didn’t work in college is in the past, assuming the issues that made it happen are, too. His support system, a much-debated group of people, hasn’t changed, he said. When he was down, they were there, and they are still there. Brown credited his trainer and family for keeping him going.
“I got a lot of work to do, I want to be a major part of this offense, I want to contribute to this team’s success,” Brown said. “To get relaxed now, that’s not the way to do it, that’s not the way it’s going to be done. I gotta stay hungry, gotta stay in the playbook, gotta continue to go after it and have that drive.”
Amazingly, Brown is still going. I won’t stop paying attention this time.