July 26, 2009

Speed to burn

[db]T.Y. Yates[/db] and E.J. Wilson were standing close by on the day it happened, and they can still recall the moment when redshirt freshman linebacker Zach Brown made the stopwatch pop for the first time in front of the Carolina coach staff and all his teammates.

"I had just finished running my 40 about 10 minutes before," Wilson said at the ACC's annual Football Kickoff on Sunday. "We were like, 'Zach is kind of moving fast.' We didn't expect a 4.2.

"So they had him run it again. He had about six watches on him. They all had 4.2 except one, I think. The one that didn't had like 4.3 flat."

Yates remembers the scenario just the same.

"I was right next to the coach," Yates said. "When he first ran it, nobody believed it. 'Does that really say a 4.28?'"

That would make Brown the fastest player on the team, so the coaches had him run it again and put more clocks on him.

"He got all the coaches to come down and time him, and he ran a 4.26," Yates said. "Our whole team, the coaches, everybody, just erupted. They were in disbelief. The kid is 235, 240 pounds, and running a 4.26. That's insane."

Yates and Wilson said the coaching staff and players started hooping and hollering when Brown did it on command.

"We were so excited as if we had just run a 4.2," Wilson said. "Zach is about 230 pounds. You expect it from a smaller guy. This is guy is also one of the strongest guys on the team, too. He's a freak of nature -- freak of nature."

As both players said, this is not some safety disguised as a linebacker. Brown weighs somewhere between 230 and 240 pounds. In fact, when summer workouts drew to a close, Brown won most of the contests that required speed and strength.

"At the end of the summer," Yates said, "we had running and lifting competitions. He blew everybody out of the water, won nine or 10 events. He was dragging sleds 100 yards. He's so strong, and he's so fast. He's a great athlete."

What's really crazy is that Yates said he believes Brown can run faster.

"He can make it even better," Yates said. "He kind of started off to the left a little and then straightened it back up. He is raw power and speed. Everybody amazed by it."

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