The 6-3, 220-pound Brown, who lettered two seasons as a Buff, played an integral part in Colorado's success over the past two seasons. He had 14 games with 100 or more yards, the second most in CU history, with CU posting a 13-1 record in those contests. He burst on the national scene after he rushed for 198 yards and six touchdowns in CU's 62-36 win over No. 2 Nebraska in 2001, and added 182 and three scores against Texas a week later to help CU win its first Big 12 title.
He was a first-team All-American this past year by the AFCA, and was a second-team selection by most other organizations and services. He was also the runner-up for the Doak Walker Award, presented to the nation's top running back, in addition to being a unanimous all-Big 12 performer and its offensive player-of-the-year by the coaches.
Brown received favorable feedback from the NFL as to where he could expect to be selected in this year's draft, set for April 26-27. The inquiry indicated he would be at least be a second round pick.
"I think this is the best thing for me to do," Brown said from his parents' home in Naperville, Ill. "I've thoroughly explored it, and am comfortable with my decision, as is my family.
"If I had to narrow it down to one reason, there really wasn't one particular thing or driving force. It was a childhood dream of mine to play in the NFL. I think I've accomplished a lot at CU and it's time for me to try it at the next level.
"I made a lot of friends for life at Colorado, and I've cherished my time there. The coaches have all been great to me, and I'm personally better for my time and experiences at CU."
Brown also said that the departure of running back Eric Bieniemy and the severe knee injury suffered by Miami running back Willis McGahee in the national championship game "really had no bearing" on his decision to turn pro.
"I support Chris' decision, and I think our entire staff does," CU head coach Gary Barnett said. "He made it through a thoughtful process, took into consideration several things, and we were there to provide information and let him make his decision. Chris has been a great Buff and a great team member, and we will continue to encourage and support him as he moves to the next level."
Brown rushed for 1,744 yard and 18 touchdowns in 11 games during the just completed regular season, and added 97 yards and a touchdown in the 31-28 overtime loss to Wisconsin in the Alamo Bowl. He was third in the NCAA in rushing, averaging 153.4 yards per game, and was 12th in scoring (9.5 points per game), including the bowl. He concludes his Colorado career as CU's No. 4 all-time leading rusher with 3,690 yards as well as the No. 4 scorer with 204 points. His 2,766 all-purpose yards placed him 16th on that list.
He had more rushing yards than 54 Division I-A schools during the regular season, when he had 49 red zone rushes for 189 yards, 13 TDs and 10 first downs. He had 502 yards against ranked teams at the time of the game (four in all, or 125.5 per game); that figure jumps to 969 including teams that were ranked before (Iowa State, Wisconsin) or after (CSU, Texas Tech) they played Colorado.
Brown is planning to return to school this spring to continue work toward his degree in Economics, of which he says he is short of about two semesters worth of classes.
Brown becomes the sixth Colorado player since 1993 to declare himself eligible for the draft as an undergraduate. The five previous Buffaloes to do so were all juniors and were all drafted: DT Leonard Renfro in 1993 (first round, Philadelphia); TB Lamont Warren in 1994 (sixth round, Indianapolis); TB Rashaan Salaam (first round, Chicago) and DT Shannon Clavelle (sixth round, Buffalo), both in 1995; and CB Ben Kelly in 2000 (third round, Miami). Warren and Kelly are still in the league; the other three are retired and currently out of football.
Of the eight teams remaining in the NFL playoffs, only one, Tennessee's Eddie George, has a back of comparable size to Brown's 6-3, 220-pound frame. George is listed at 6-3, 236; six of the other seven check in at 5-11 or shorter, so Brown's size combined with his speed (4.45 in the 40) should make him an attractive pick.
Barnett said that he expects all other CU juniors to return for their senior seasons.