Brown Takes to Tackle

Redshirt freshman Braden Brown cut his teeth at tight end before recently moving over to offensive tackle largely due to depth issues this season. After starting and being effective at right tackle against New Mexico, could Brown have made a decision to play a different position?

"I talked to Coach Weber and he talked to Coach Anae about a possible switch, and we all decided that I'm going to switch to tackle," said Braden Brown. "I'm going to play tackle for the rest of my career here."

Brown was a monster tight end for the Cougars, measuring in at 6 feet 6 inches and well over 250 pounds. He was used primarily as a short-yardage blocking tight end, so when depth at offensive line became a concern early on during the season, Brown stepped forward and volunteered to man both positions. Playing both tight end and offensive lineman is far from an easy task for anyone.

Fortunately for Brown, he had plenty of experience with playing on the offensive line prior to his final high school years. As he began to learn the position anew during BYU practice sessions, it came naturally to him to the point that when Nick Alletto couldn't go this past Saturday, Brown filled in at the starting right tackle spot.

"I knew Nick got hurt the Monday before the game," said Brown. "We didn't know if he could or couldn't go at the time, but Coach Weber came up to me and Braden Hansen and told us that we'd have to step up and maybe split time at right tackle if he couldn't go so that we had to get ready for it."

Brown immediately seized the opportunity and put in as much time as he could in the film room and elsewhere to prepare himself for a full load at right tackle. While he didn't know how much he'd play at right tackle if Alletto wasn't ready, he prepared as if he would be taking every rep.

"I was excited for sure, but yeah, I was nervous, no question," he allowed. "I didn't let my teammates kinow that I was, but here I am with my first college start at a position I'd only been practicing at for six weeks, but after I got the first series under my belt I had a blast. It's the game I've been playing all my life, so that was great just playing an entire game. It's been awhile since I've been able to do it and it was a blast."

So how did he do?

"I have a ton to work on to be sure," he said. "When we got our grade sheets after the game I was a little surprised that I graded out so well. I got a better grade than I thought I would, but wow, I have a lot to work on and that's sort of exciting that I could grade well and still have that much room to get better."

Most players like the opportunity to make plays with the ball in their hands, and Brown admittedly will miss out on having that opportunity for the rest of his football career. So when the decision to switch was made, he wasn't all in immediately and needed to get used to the idea.

"The first two days were rough as I really wondered if I had made the right decision," he said. "But after those two days, and after practicing and getting confident I began to know that yeah, this is where I need to be playing. This is where I can help the team out most and that's the biggest goal that any of us have. I also had an opportunity to play an entire game, which is what we all want, to be on the field no matter where we're playing."

Brown is aware of the success rate of former tight ends moving over to play offensive tackle. In covering recruiting, it's become apparent to this reporter that most of the top tackle recruits spent at least some time in high school at the tight end position.

"When I was meeting with Coach Weber about it he told me that the best tackles he's ever coached were tight ends, linebackers or whatever before switching to offensive line in college," Brown said. "So that really excited me and maybe gave me some new aspirations of maybe my best opportunity to play at the next level after this if I work hard enough and if I'm lucky enough. All I can do is work as hard and as well as I can while here at BYU and after, if it helps me best get to the NFL, then I'll obviously love that."

The best offensive lineman on the team, Matt Reynolds, was a player that spent his sophomore year of high school at tight end before moving to tackle during his junior and senior seasons. Seeing the success that Reynolds has had after making the move definitely has given Brown confidence.

"Just watching Matt Reynolds and Nick Alletto is really one of the best things I do and what I've done to prepare me to play offensive tackle," he said. "Both of them are so good with what they do. If I could even get close to as good as both of them are, then I'll do really well."

Brown will be hitting the weights and has already begun to do so in hopes of getting up to abound 290 pounds in time for next season.

"I want to be around 290-295, but with just 10 percent body fat," he explained. "If I do that I'll be able to hold my own better and it should really help me in run blocking. My feet are good, and if I don't lose quickness while getting stronger, then I feel I could do pretty well at the position."

Although the decision is right in his mind for both himself and for his team, Brown still would love the opportunity to not completely say goodbye to catching the football.

"Absolutely, I'm going to be pushing for some tackle-eligible plays and whatnot," he said. "I don't know how far it will take me or if they'll listen, but yeah, I'll be pushing for it to be sure."

All good to go

Head coach Bronco Mendenhall informed the media following Tuesday's practice that both Harvey Unga and Nick Alletto will play this Saturday against Air Force. Unga has been placed in a boot and will not put any strain on it until Thursday's practice, as he'll again be looked at to carry the load at the running back position.

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