September 30, 2008

Brown goes home to running back

Ever felt down in the dumps one minute, then felt like the luckiest person alive the next? That's about how Lamark Brown felt standing outside the Vanier Football Complex after practice last Tuesday night. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder was expected to emerge as the top big wide receiver in the Big 12 Conference, but was a non-factor at Louisville. And he didn't understand why. Then Brown walked into Ron Prince's office after practice. His outlook on football might never be the same again.

As Brown puts it, Prince said, "Well, we're struggling here a little bit in the running game."

Brown's response: "OK, let's get it done."

To Prince, it was a solution to a problem. To Brown, it felt like coming home.

More than once during the offseason, Brown laughed at inquirers when asked if he would consider playing a different position. Nobody was returning at running back. Linebacker could be a fit. But Brown, who had difficulty catching the ball as a freshman, said that Prince wanted him at wide receiver, where he was recruited to contribute.

Ever talked about playing at running back?

"No," Brown would say. "Never."

Brown had four catches for 45 yards and one touchdown in the season opener against North Texas. Coupled with a three 3-catch, 37-yard effort a week later against Montana State, everybody believed Brown had found a home as a punishing pass-catcher. Then came Louisville. Nothing. Nada.

"Obviously, either I did something they didn't expect for me to do or I need to pick-up on something," Brown shrugged after practice and four days prior to Louisiana. "I'm just taking it as a challenge now."

Then Brown spoke with Prince. And Brown's world changed.

"Truthfully, I had no idea what was going on," Brown recalled on Monday. "I really didn't bother to ask because I figured the coaches probably had something they wanted to do, but didn't want to tell me, I guess."

Prince said a possible switch to running back had been in the works all along.

"We had this conversation during the offseason," Prince said. "We discussed a number of scenarios that might leave us a little bit short at running back, a number of scenarios in which we could have a lot of good players at wide receiver. We talked about a lot of different things."

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