“Yeah, I’ve been taking more reps than I have been [previously],” said Brown. “Then we have Nate Carter and Toloa’i Ho Ching rotating in, so it’s been kind of even so far. Having Jamaal [Williams] out does hurt the team, but it does give us [playing] behind him a chance to get more playing time and experience. It gives me and the other guys a chance to show that we can play too. It’s just another opportunity to show up.”
The additional reps during spring camp has been valuable for Brown who saw extensive action last season, especially the latter half of the season after Williams went down with a knee injury. The more time he’s been able to run with the first team offense, the more he’s understood the little things expected of the primary back in BYU's offense.
“Other than getting more experience, I know what to expect more now within the offense,” Brown said. “I know what to do in specific situations and that’s a big advantage. I don’t have to guess or wonder what to do. I know what to do. That means I can play more naturally and faster within the offense in every situation.”
Joining Brown in the backfield in a rotating manner has been senior scat back Nate Carter and new addition to the group Toloa’i “A’i” Ho Ching, otherwise known as “The Hammer” by his teammates. Ho Ching came from the middle linebacker group last season to play fullback in Robert Anae’s offense.
“He’s making a big statement in our room,” said Brown. “He’s the one taking over for Paul Lasike, which are big shoes to fill. A’i is doing a great job filling those shoes being the big guy in our room. It’s kind of fun to watch him step up and learn the offense. He came over from the defense last year and everything is totally new. Now he’s on top of his game and doing some [good] things.”
“A’i has really stepped up a lot and knows what he’s doing,” said Brown. “He’s really stepped up his game from last year and has come on strong, so he’s been someone that has been impressive over spring camp and has surprised everyone.
From among the younger players, a converted wide reciever has stepped up and impressed Brown.
“Cody Bond has been doing well. He’s a smaller but faster guy. He played wide receiver last year and he kind of knows the offense. He’s taken on the role of a running back and is running with it.”
When it comes to the younger backs in the running backs group, Brown has taken on more of a leadership role with filling in when the coaches aren’t available.
“They’re coming to me now and asking me questions," said Brown. “It’s kind of a cool experience having some of the younger guys come to me and asking me questions. It’s a new experience for me.”
Along with Brown, senior back Nate Carter has also taken a leadership role.
“He’s doing really well and is taking on that leadership role in the room and on the practice field,” said brown. “He’s a senior and also has experience. He’s just a good guy all the way around helping out and making sure we know what we are doing.”
Not only are BYU's running backs expected to be there for one another, but they’re also expected to be that spark of enthusiasm and support for their teammates in different position groups when needed.
“I would definitely say we’re hungry and have taken it upon ourselves to kind of turn up the heat in practice,” said Brown. “If the wide receivers aren’t doing good, or the tight ends are struggling, we take it upon ourselves to encourage the other guys to step it up and do better. That’s what we want to do as a running backs group. We want to be leaders and encourage others to step up their game.”
The one responsible for such a demeanor among the running backs is none other than BYU running backs coach Mark Atuaia.
“Coach Atuaia is the one that has kind of placed that mentality within us,” said Brown. “We have to know our stuff first and be ready to go always before we can help or encourage others. He’s the one that has fed the fire in our room.”
This season, Brown hopes to add a little more flare to his running style. Rather than run through players, like he’s done in the past, he hopes to be able to add a little more shake to his game.
“I’ve always felt like playing physical and running through guys has always been one of my strengths,” said Brown. “That’s something that I’ve always liked to do is run through guys. I like playing physical and being powerful. One thing that I’ve worked on over the winter is just getting faster and having quicker feet and knowing when to make a cut. It’s about knowing when to cut, when to juke, or when to run them over; so for me I’ve been working on footwork and stuff like that.”
To assist him in his efforts to increase his speed, Brown dropped a few pounds over the winter break. He hopes this will broaden his ability as a runner much to the chagrin of his running back’s coach Mark Atuaia.
“I tried [losing weight] a couple of times but Marky was like, 'Try using your big head and run through. It’s not that hard,'" said Brown with a laugh. “It’s funny. I’ve dropped a couple of pounds and I feel faster, so I guess now I feel like I can run around guys. I’ve been working out on my own and with our new trainer (Frank Wintrich). Man, that guy knows what he’s doing. I feel faster, stronger, and a lighter so we’ll see how this helps me and the guys out on the field.”