"During spring it's definitely been a change of things," said tailback Curtis Brown. "I sort of had to take a back seat with Fui [Vakapuna] coming off his mission and [Ray] Hudson coming off a red shirt. Those are two quality running backs that are trying to make a name for themselves and this is the spring for them to do it. So I've had to take a step back and give these guys an opportunity to prove their stuff, and they've done a wonderful job of that."
There is not reason to think that Brown was demoted on the depth charts. After three years of seeing what Brown has done to the scout team and opposing, BYU coaches know exactly what they have in Brown. By the time his career is finished, Brown will likely hold a large share of BYU's rushing records. Brown will occupy the spotlight in the fall, but in the meantime, coaches need to develop his replacement for the seasons to come.
"I think we're going to be amazing," said Brown. "We've already seen glimpses of what Fui can do as a hard runner. He brings a lot of excitement and that's huge. His presence on the field contributes a lot to the performance of the overall team, and just seeing what he does, inspires me to play better.
"When we're both lined up in the backfield together there's going to be a lot of excitement, and when Fui and Manase [Tonga] are both lined up there's going to be a lot of excitement. I mean, Manase is in his second year and he has that experience and he's made a statement. He now has a place for himself on this team, so we're going to be looking for him to contribute emotionally as well. We know he can play physically and he has that mentality but we want to see that emotion more than ever before."
This week, Brown received more reps with the first team offense and showed why he does not need to prove anything to offensive coaches. He has been there and done that and is now more involved in being a teacher and advisor.
"This is my senior year to kind of fine tune things," Brown said. "I've just been polishing up those things that I've learned over the past four years of being here. It's just been a time for me to sit back and really take a good look at the team to see where we're at and try to determine what we need to do to be even better.
"When I'm not in I have more of a chance to help guys out. Not necessarily coach them because I've done nothing to become a coach and I don't have the credentials for that, but as a player, as a teammate and as a friend if I see things I can help them out with, I'm not afraid to say something. Whether it's their footwork or something small like little tips, I help them to be better."
Brown recognized that with 115 players on the field, the coaches are not able to see everything. He feels that with his experience, he needs to be more involved in looking out for the rest of the team. Brown indicated that one of the hallmarks of the team is the way they look out for each other. Brown and his fellow seniors are stepping up and taking ownership of the team without prompting from the coaches.
"As a junior you just kind of take direction from other people and follow orders, but as a senior you have to kind of analyze every single situation," said Brown. "I've just been kind of analyzing our team and trying to see what we need to improve on in order to be the best we can be. We have a lot of great potential but we have to keep working day in and day out in order to be the best we can be."
The most notable difference for Brown between his junior and senior year is confidence. BYU fans may remember former BYU head coach Gary Crowton repeating a mantra about confidence following Browns sophomore year, but, according to Brown, he now has a greater understanding his former coach was preaching.
"I would say confidence is everything," said Brown. "When I look at my career here, I kind of didn't know much about football when I first got here. I didn't really know much about the game, and the speed of the game is different so it makes you a little nervous.
"During my sophomore year, Fahu [Tahi] was still the main tailback here and I was trying to make the best out of the situation and take advantage of every opportunity that I had. Towards the end of my sophomore season, I started to get that confidence that I needed to get going."
After Brown's sophomore season, there was a coaching change that involved the installation of a new offense. The shakeup left Brown wondering about his role and struggling to fid his confidence once more. Hard work in the film and weight rooms during his junior season and into the off-season left Brown mentally and physically strong.
"Now I have to put all that hard work I've done in the off-season into playing one last great season," said Brown. "To me, spring is the time for me to show my off-season hard work and now that I know the new offense and have ran the plays a million times, react to defensive schemes I don't have as much hesitation as I did last year. If I make a mistake now I know exactly why I made that mistake. This year everybody is on that same page."
As he participates in his final spring season at BYU, Brown figures to be a major contributor in the future success of this offense. Coach Mendenhall gave an off-season directive to the team that carried great meaning to Brown despite its brevity.
"I think coach said it best when he first got here," said Brown. "He gathered everyone together and said to us, ‘No limits.' I don't know what that means on the defensive side of the ball, but offensively there are no limits for us. With the talent we have there are no boundaries and no limits on where we can and can't go. We will set the standards and if we want to be the number one offense in the nation; it's there for us. It's for us to go out and grab it and so the dreams and possibilities that can come out of this year's team are endless."