Keith Brown Comes Clean

Upcoming junior wide receiver Keith Brown is having a very good spring practice, but he'll have a hard time in his final two years making anyone forget his big play in the Cotton Bowl. And speaking of that 76-yard catch-and-run play for a touchdown on the second play of the game: Was he or wasn't he?

Keith Brown started to play coy. Then he gave an honest answer.

The junior wide receiver scored the only Alabama touchdown in the Crimson Tide's 13-10 Cotton Bowl victory over Texas Tech. That win lifted Bama to a 10-2 record and a final eighth place national ranking.

The defense stopping high-powered Texas Tech was given most of the credit for the victory. And highlight videotape of the win focused on the dramatic final play, Jamie Christensen's 45-yard clump-kick field goal for the winning points.

But what about that touchdown!

Brodie Croyle stood up and hit Brown on the left flank. As Brown curled back for the ball, his knee dipped towards the turf of the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. He got a block, and then it was a footrace.

Not many people win a footrace with Brown, a former Mississippi high school track star before transferring to Fort Walton Beach, Florida, as a prep senior.

Later, the networks would re-play a bad angle videotape of the catch, trying to show that Brown's knee might have been down when he caught the ball. Had that been the case, an official should have blown his whistle and called the ball down at that point.

"The official didn't say it was down, so it wasn't down," Brown said following a recent spring practice session. "You don't stop running until you hear the whistle."

Then he gave a more detailed answer. "I didn't feel the ground," he said. "If my knee had touched, I would have felt it."

He said he had seen replays. "It was close," he said.

Brown has had a good spring thus far, he said. "I've done pretty good," he said, then amended it to "real good."

He said, "The receivers are working together. We're working hard and trying to make the DBs (defensive backs) better, too. The DBs are real competitive with us. When we're out there on the field we're competing real hard against each other, but when we get off the field we're all good friends. " "That makes it fun. And that's what makes a team. We're building a team this spring."

Brown said his personal improvement in the spring is that "I've gotten more precise in my routes and more aggressive on deep balls. I'm playing more with my mind and my heart than just my talent."

Brown has also gained some weight. He's carrying about 210 pounds on his 6-3 frame, up from 192 at the end of last season.

The upcoming junior was Bama's second-leading receiver last season. He had 24 catches for 642 yards and four touchdowns. He started 10 games, including the Cotton Bowl, but missed the Utah State game with an injury.

In addition to the Cotton Bowl, where he had five catches for 141 yards, he had an outstanding game against South Carolina with three receptions for 91 yards and two touchdowns.

As a freshman Brown played in 10 games, earning starts against Kentucky and Ole Miss. His college debut was a good one, four receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown against Utah State.

Alabama players are on spring break and will return to practice next Tuesday, March 28. The A-Day Game follows on Saturday, April 1, at 1:30 p.m. CST at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

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