Becoming a Complete Back

Every college football program in the country employs some sort of running back in their offensive scheme. Some backs slash between the tackles, while others bull their way to success. At BYU, coaches plan to teach their running backs to become a more universal type of ball carrier, and that suits Curtis Brown just fine.

As Curtis Brown enters his junior year at BYU, he is developing into what is known as a "complete" running back under the instruction of Coach Lance Reynolds.

What exactly is a complete running back? Well, a complete back can lay down a hard block, catch a pass over the shoulder, turn the corner on the outside, or push the ball right up the middle for a short-yardage first down.

"It's a great spread offense, but the thing I think that really opens it up is having a running back coming out of the backfield," said Brown. "We noticed our defensive linebackers like to play off you because they think the quarterback isn't going to throw to the running backs, but when you start throwing to the running backs the linebackers can't cheat fifteen yards downfield. They have to respect the running backs."

Brown is not only perfecting how to run between the tackles, something he's done rather well since he was a true freshman, he is also learning a multitude of new skills as part of anew role that will dramatically add to his importance as a member of BYU's football team.

"I guess that's what we call a complete back," Brown said. "Every running back who comes into college thinks he can run the rock, and Coach Reynolds emphases that everybody who comes into college football can run the ball. If they couldn't they wouldn't be here playing Division I football.

"It's the [complete] running back that steps up and pass blocks to protect the quarterback that allows him to get 5 or 6 seconds in the pocket. It's the running back that runs crisp routes and catches the ball every time and doesn't fumble that makes him different than other running backs that just run the ball. These coaches do things that try and develop us into being that complete back. I think there are a lot of running backs that think, 'Oh, I ran the ball for 8,000 yards in high school.' It's not all about running the ball. Sometimes it's about doing the little things, getting dirty, catching passes and things that don't require you to run the ball."

Currently Brown is working hardest on his ability to play within the passing offense, but not just as a receiver. He wants to be a back who does the little things that allow others to succeed. This is what being a "complete back" is all about.

"For me that's what I have to realize," Brown explained. "When I think I have one thing down, I can't just sit there and say that I don't have to work on that any more. The main thing for me is to come out there and work hard, and play every play as if it's your last. Just leave the field on a great note. The main thing I'm focusing on is pass protection because I'm so anxious to get out there and I'm not afraid to hit guys.

"I think the stats will come but I feel my roll is to also motivate players in the weight room. I need to throw blocks for the quarterbacks as well as catching balls and running between the tackles. The part where I have to step up is when I'm not in the spotlight and behind the screens stuff."


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