After last season, it has become apparent to Mack Brown and Texas fans something needs to change. A lot of this potential energy rests on the shoulders of freshman running back Malcolm Brown.
Brown, a five star recruit from Cibolo, is in Austin and has been participating in preseason practice. He was ranked as the second-best running back and seventh-best overall prospect by ESPNU. Now it’s his time to prove himself at the college level.
Co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin said Brown is doing very well executing plays at practice and during their scrimmage.
“We’ve got some guys that have done some great things running the ball, some great things out there blocking, but I want to see it live,” Harsin said. “We know what we’re capable of but we just want to see it live.”
Brown is certainly capable of a lot. His high school football team won the Texas state championship his senior year, and in his four years of high school he totaled 6,663 rushing yards, 86 rushing touch downs and 9.8 yards per carry.
Both Brown and freshman running back Joe Bergeron are big, quick players and will attempt to light up Texas’ offense this year.
“They’ve got the vision,” Harsin said.“They’ve got the instincts. And you just cut them loose — as long as they’re heading the right direction and hanging on to the ball, they should be okay.”
The two players are both doing a good job hanging on to the ball, and they are expected to continue to progress, Harsin said.
He does not seem tentative to play freshmen.
Senior running back Fozzy Whittaker has been impressed by his skills, as well as his attitude.
“It’s my job to help make him the best football player he can be,” Whittaker said. “It’s always a learning curve. But he’s a very versatile back. He weighs a pretty good amount and he still has quick feet and great hands.”
Brown is known for his compact build and strength. At 6 feet and 217 pounds, he could be the spark that Texas needs to break through its rough patch.
Harsin has noted how the upperclassmen, especially Whittaker, have helped lead the younger players. He said Brown has been working hard and maintaining a good attitude.
“He has done well,” Harsin said. “He knows what he’s doing out there. He’s getting lined up in the right spots.”
In addition, both freshmen running backs Brown and Bergeron are big and powerful, something the Texas offense needs.
“They’ve got a lot of very good qualities that we’ve seen out there, and we’ll continue to watch them progress here this week,” Harsin said.
But as a mere freshman with very big expectations, can Brown live up to what is expected of him? Many have compared him to Cedric Benson. The Longhorns were ranked 66th nationally in rushing offense last year. In order for the team to have a successful offense and team, their rushing yards need to increase. One freshman won’t be enough to turn that around.
Brown has a lot of pressure on his shoulders as the first season of his college career begins. This season is very different than what Texas and Longhorn fans are accustomed to. But Brown is an important addition to the team, and although expectations are high, he will make a positive contribution to the struggling squad. How much of a contribution he will make is still unclear.
“Once I get situated it will be real fun, but these first couple of games, maybe this first whole season, it will be nerve-wracking for me,” Brown said. “But once I get situated, that’s what I’m excited about.”
Printed on Friday, August 26, 2011 as: First year runners look to bolster Texas' weak ground attack.