'Bam Bam' Ready to Take His Knocks

Second-year linebacker Brandon Brown is expected to be as big a hit for Iowa State as those he lays on Cyclone opponents.

ISU's "Bam Bam" hopes to knock
opponents back to the Stone Age

Most of the preseason pub at linebacker for Iowa State revolves around seniors Jeremy Loyd and Matt Word, as well as comeback player of the year Chris Whitaker, a third-year junior.

But any attention that his older, more experienced teammates receive is fine with second-year WILL linebacker Brandon "Bam Bam" Brown. The 5-foot-10, 230-pound linebacker, who enters his second preseason camp as a starter, doesn't require the spotlight right now.

"I'm laid back and keep a low profile, but it's a different story on the field," said Brown, who as a true freshman recorded 13 tackles and one sack backing up Justin Eilers. "As far as all of that attention goes, they can get all of it. I don't mind one bit. Nobody really knows who I am, so I'm just going to try to shock everybody this year."

If Brown is to live up to his potential, though, he might not have much control over how much of the hype comes his way. Cyclone coaches believe the sky's the limit for Brown, one of the marquee additions in Dan McCarney's recruiting class of 2001.

Defensive coordinator John Skladany looks forward to getting an even better look at Brown as a starter this fall.

"The games he was in last year, he was always making plays," said Skladany. "He got in the bowl game and was effective. All throughout the spring, he was one of the better players on defense. We're looking for a big year out of him. He's got a lot of talent. He's quick, strong, and has a nose for the football. He's just what we're looking for at WILL linebacker."

Although he had a good idea of what Brown could be capable of at the next level, McCarney needed to see it first-hand in Ames last August. It didn't take long for the talented linebacker to make a lasting impression.

"One of the real measurements on young kids, whether they've got a chance to play early or not, is the look in their eye when they step on the field for the first time," McCarney said. "Whether it's a practice, scrimmage or on game day or game night, we've all seen some that didn't respond as well as you want them to. Brandon was one of those guys that got that opportunity. The first time he got his chance in practice or scrimmages, he didn't back off or flinch. He had a great look in his eye.

"He didn't act like this was the bigs. He acted like it was back home and he was out playing some football. That's the maturity level he brings to this program. He has a lot of abilities and is definitely our starting WILL linebacker. He made a lot of plays with the opportunities that he got last year off the bench."

Playing as a true freshman provided Brown with some valuable experience that not a lot of other second-year players have. Now, with a year under his belt plus a full session of spring practice and off-season workouts, he looks to take it to another level.

Brown has complemented that experience with 20 extra pounds of muscle in the offseason, meaning that he is much better equipped to handle the rigors of playing full time at one of the two inside linebacker positions.

"Playing last year was real good because the game is a whole different speed on this level," he said. "I learned what it took to win. I learned a lot of stuff out there, so I'm glad I got that opportunity and experience. If I could take some of what I've learned now back to high school, who knows what I could do. I'm so much better and have gotten a lot stronger."

As a result, Cyclone fans could be hearing a lot more from Brown, who is befitting of his nickname of "Bam Bam." Brown originally earned that title as a physically dominant linebacker at the high school level. After witnessing some of the hits he put on offensive teammates this spring, it's unlikely that distinction will escape him anytime soon.

"When I get out there I try to make something happen and get a big hit on somebody," Brown said with a grin.

Hence the nickname.

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