It's not like linebacker is completely new to him, but it's been several years since he patrolled the middle of a team's defense. "My last time was five years ago in high school," Brown said. "I'm getting the basics down, and I'm going to be all right. Once I get my foot speed and my sight, everything will be all right."
Recognizing a need for depth at middle linebacker, Tide Head Coach Dennis Franchione made the decision to switch the rising senior to defense. "He's having a lot of formations thrown at him right now," Franchione said. "It's going to be a consistent learning curve for him."
Brown agreed, "There are a lot of adjustments to make, but I'm making it. I've just got to keep on working. We're still a little slow as a unit, but we'll get things on the right page and we'll be all right."
Always known as a bruising blocker, Brown showed flashes running the football his first three seasons. Competing in 22 games, he's credited with 12 carries for 60 yards. Brown competed as a true freshman and sophomore, before sitting out his third season with academic concerns. Last year he saw backup duty at fullback.
At 6-0, 250+ pounds of powerful muscle, Brown easily fits the bill of a tough run-stopping inside linebacker. "I've got the physical part, now I've just got to get the mental part down," he said. "Really fullback and linebacker are a lot the same thing. One is just offense and one is just defense.
"It's just clean up."
As Brown said, at times this spring he has naturally struggled to remember what and who to look for before flying to the ball. "Learning the plays is the toughest part," he acknowledged. "Going from the paper to the field, from the chalkboard to the field, that's the tough part. Passing situations. The drops and reads are the most difficult. But it'll come."
But when he sees the play coming his way, Brown has definitely shown the ability to lay the wood to ball carriers. "No doubt Marvin can get to the ball and make hits," Franchione said. "He's got the mentality and the speed to be a middle linebacker."
Heading into the spring, redshirt freshman Freddie Roach was projected as the starter at middle linebacker, and most expected Brown to be developed into a backup. But a mild concussion has slowed Roach's development. And Brown has gotten plenty chances to show what he can do.
"I've been out there a lot," he admitted. "Coach (Torbush) told me he'd throw me into the fire to get used to things and see what was going on. He said things were going to move quickly and they have. I've just got to catch up with it and make some plays."
When Torbush and Franchione approached him with the idea of switching to linebacker, Brown was receptive to the idea. "Coach (Torbush) just told me that he felt like I could help the defense, so that's what we did," Brown related.
"Coach Torbush is a little more animated than Coach Fobbs," Brown continued. "But you've got to accept the challenge. He's a linebackers coach, so you expect him to be more animated than a running backs coach. But both are good coaches. I'm happy to be working with Coach Torbush."