Brown changes setbacks into success
By TIM CASEY
It didn’t take long for Bobby Brown to make his college decision.
Less than 24 hours after his visit to Notre Dame on Jan. 20, 1995, Brown was convinced of his choice after spending time with future teammates Shawn Wooden, LaRon Moore, Ivory Covington and Allen Rossum.
“The whole time I came up here, the only thing that I could think about was how cold it was,” Brown recalled. “But then Saturday night, I was out in the cold and I couldn’t feel it anymore because all the guys accepted me like I was a brother.
“That night I called my mother at five in the morning and told her I made my decision. She respected my choice,” he added. “I forgot about the climate and thought about everything that was going on around me. I knew then that Notre Dame was the place for me.”
And so began Brown’s Notre Dame career.
At times, it’s been outstanding. In other cases, he has struggled. But through it all, Brown has continued to battle.
The fifth-year senior from Lauderhill, Fla., came into his own in 1997. The Irish leader in catches and touchdown receptions, Brown was the key member of the passing attack.
A year later, the adulation turned into frustration. An early season wrist injury slowed his progress. Brown responded late in the season, including a crucial 15-yard catch on third-and-long in the third period against Arizona State to put the Irish up 21-3, but he was never 100 percent in the game.
At the time, head coach Bob Davie alluded that Brown was the receiver who most consistently blocked. Brown, however, didn’t want to be known as just a blocker.
“As a receiver, you never want to hear that you’re a great blocker,” Brown said. “Due to my injury, they didn’t have the confidence that I could do the same things I did the year before.
“But I wanted the people, when they look at me, to see someone who didn’t feel sorry for himself.
“Last year was pretty rough,” Brown continued. “In athletics, things don’t always go your way, but it’s something that makes a man out of you.The ones who can survive are usually the ones who end up on top and the ones who can’t, usually fall by the wayside. Hopefully, I’ll end up on top.”
To climb to the top, Brown, along with the majority of players, stayed on campus this summer to practice. Besides taking one summer school course, Brown worked out five days a week with quarterback Jarious Jackson.
“Workouts this summer were really intense,” Brown said. “Guys were willing to give up their summers, which is kind of foreign for us. Usually we have a week or so to go home after summer school.
“This year, we knew with the early start that we had to give up the summer. We made sure we did it right.”
When summer camp started, Brown was eager to prove last year’s skeptics wrong.
“I started off camp on a rampage, feeling that I had a lot to prove and I still feel that way,” Brown said. “I’ve got to prove to myself that I can bounce back.
“In proving it to myself, hopefully I will show the people who doubted me last year;” he added. “But I didn’t go anywhere. I just put it on pause for a second.”
Working under new offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers also excites Brown. In his tenure at Syracuse, Rogers’ teams always ranked among the nation’s top offenses.
“He’s great; his numbers don’t lie,” Brown said of his new offensive coordinator. “What he did at Syracuse was proof. I ask him everyday [to throw more than they did last year.] He probably gets sick of me asking him, but I think we’ll throw more to keep the defense a little off guard and keep them on their heels.”
Brown is unsure where he will be after college.
He has already met his graduation requirements, but decided to defer a year to earn a minor in African-American studies. Once the season is over, however, he plans to relax — in a warm climate.
“Maybe I’ll fly out to Jamaica and sit back with a few of my teammates — Raki [Nelson], Jarious [Jackson], Lamont [Bryant] and others,” said Brown. “Just kick back and look at the future. Of course, I want to play in the NFL but I’m not one of those guys that has to do it.
“I’m ready to move on whenever that book closes. If I don’t play in NFL, I may take the LSAT and go to law school.”
As long as he’s on the beach, wearing a ring inscribed “2000 National Champions,” Brown will be satisfied.
All Sports Stories for Friday, August 27, 1999