Brown Quickly Goes From Player To Coach

FAYETTEVILLE — Pierre Brown looked like a football coach Monday morning, wearing a gray sweatsuit and leading Arkansas' linebackers in a drill at the start of practice.

Two years ago, Brown would have been among the linebackers taking part in the drill. Now, he's telling them what to do.

At 24, Brown is the youngest position coach on Arkansas' staff. And because of a strange set of circumstances, he has quickly gone from player to graduate assistant to linebackers coach.

It has been a unique situation. After all, he's only two years older than middle linebacker Weston Dacus and he played alongside strongside linebacker Freddie Fairchild in 2005.

"It's been cool. It's a little different being that I played with Dacus and Freddie, alongside those guys," Brown said. "But even when we were playing, I was older so I could lend them a helping hand and kind of be like a coaching figure at that time, as well."

Brown is unlike Arkansas' other position coaches. While nearly all of them have either reached or are approaching middle age, he could still pass for a college student.

Brown is also new to the coaching profession. At this time a year ago, he was fresh out of college and working for his family's small mortgage and real estate company in Palm Beach, Fla.

But his age and lack of experience hasn't been an issue for the Razorbacks as they prepare to face No. 7 Missouri in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1.

After all, who knows more about the linebacker position than a former starting linebacker?

"Even when he played, he demanded respect and I think all the players respect what he's trying to do and what's best for this team right now," Dacus said. "He knows the linebacker position, so he knows what we're doing and he's done a great job."

Brown played for the Razorbacks from 2001-05, starting his final two seasons. He also had an impact in a 24-21 win at Mississippi State in 2004 when he returned a blocked field-goal attempt 76 yards for a touchdown.

But Brown had no idea a few weeks ago that he'd be serving as Arkansas' linebackers coach. He was simply a graduate assistant.

Brown helped out during the day in the weight room, then went to practice in the afternoons and ran the scout team.

But everything changed after Houston Nutt resigned as Arkansas' coach on Nov. 26, leaving to replace Ed Orgeron as Ole Miss' coach.

Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring, who had been coaching the linebackers, was named the interim head coach for the Cotton Bowl. As a result, former safeties coach Chris Vaughn took over the role of coaching the linebackers.

But Vaughn didn't get much of a chance to work with Dacus and Fairchild. He was released from the coaching staff after Bobby Petrino was hired last Tuesday as Arkansas' new coach.

The Razorbacks would have exceeded the limit of coaches the NCAA allows if Petrino and Vaughn were both on staff. So Vaughn left and Herring asked Brown if he would coach the linebackers instead.

"Coach Herring is a guy that commands a large amount of respect, and when Coach Herring tells you something like that, you just say, ‘Yes, sir,'" Brown said. "I tried to take to it like fish to water."

Herring and Arkansas interim defensive coordinator Louis Campbell have helped Brown over the past few days, looking over his shoulder and helping when it's needed. But it's Brown's job for the most part.

"Pierre knows more than I do about the linebackers because he played there," Campbell said.

Brown admits he's tried not to be too hard on his linebackers, especially since he's not that much older than them.

"I figure if I could just talk to them, just show them what they messed up on and try to make the corrections from there, I'll be just as effective as a Coach Herring," Brown said.

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