Now that Gibson is out for at least Saturday's game at Kentucky with a thumb injury, Brown hopes to be the player who helps fill the big-play void left on the offense.
Receivers coach John Eason says Brown is the fastest receiver on the team. Though Brown is better known for his crossing patterns across the middle this season, he might be the player best qualified to stretch Kentucky's defense for No. 5 Georgia in the 3:30 p.m. game.
"I'm going to try to make the most of the opportunity," Brown said. "Opportunities come and go. You pretty much have to seize the moment."
A Parade magazine High School All-American and USA Today Georgia Player of the Year in 1998 at Carrollton High, Brown has yet to match his four-catch total in his freshman season opener against Georgia Southern in 2000. Brown finished his freshman season with 13 catches, including a 40-yard touchdown catch against Kentucky. He had a strong start to the 2001 season with six receptions in the first three games before suffering the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. The injury also forced him to miss most of spring practice this year, but he now is back at full speed.
Recovering from the injury was only one hurdle. Earning significant playing time in Georgia's talented receiving corps is an equally imposing challenge. Terrence Edwards is the only Georgia receiver to start every game. Brown has two starts and has 10 receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns.
Even with the loss of Gibson, Georgia still has strong experience with Edwards, Brown, Damien Gary and Michael Johnson. It is possible Johnson will see the biggest boost in opportunities this week. Georgia freshman receivers Bryan McClendon and Mario Raley also should play against Kentucky. Brown, still only a redshirt sophomore, patiently says his time will come.
"You want the ball every down, but you know that's never going to happen," Brown said. "We've got so many good receivers, you just have to distribute the ball to all of them. We're just so good all around. That's going to help us in the long run."
Brown also hopes hard work will help. He often is the last player off the practice field, spending 30 minutes or more minutes with the ball machine that shoots out pass after pass to receivers.
"I'm trying to get my hands a little softer so I don't miss any balls,'' Brown said after practice this week, still in his uniform at an hour when most players were already out of the showers and leaving the practice facility. Added Brown: "I always like to put in a little extra work. It's pretty much every day."
Gibson, Brown and Edwards are the best deep threats on the team, but Edwards works more than Brown at the "Z'' outside receiver position that Gibson usually plays.
"Reggie has the ability to go deep, and Terrence as well," Eason said. "Reggie is probably faster than Fred, but it's just a matter of knowing how to run the routes and put yourself in position to be able to catch the deep balls."
Said Brown: "The position I play doesn't allow me to run that many deep routes."
Added Brown: "But the coaches know I'm fast."
The coaches also know Brown is ready to seize the moment.