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It has been a few weeks since Houston (Tex.) Alief Elsik teammates Chris Brown and Dontavious Jackson visited Michigan, but they share Brown’s father’s impression of the trip their excitement still hasn’t died down.
Cornell Brown did his best to balance being an observer with being an advisor, but there was so much that he liked about Michigan’s program that he found himself frequently pointing those things out.
“Looking at the spring game… and I’m a coach myself… I know (Harbaugh) has got a building process. But I can tell in two years Michigan is going to be a force to reckon with,” Mr. Brown stated. “That Peppers kid is awesome. If Chris is going to play behind him, he’s going to learn something. The greatest running back (ever to play) in the NFL played behind Thurman Thomas at (Oklahoma State). Barry Sanders played behind Thurman Thomas, and that’s what I’m telling Chris. A good safety, a true DB, can play anywhere. You learn behind (Peppers) and you’re going to be just as good. And he has got good coaches behind him.”
The versatility to play anywhere in the defensive backfield is the younger Brown’s best attribute according to his dad. The elder Brown believes that the wealth of NFL experience now in Ann Arbor would ensure that his son’s talent is put to the best possible use.
“I did my own homework on every coach on that staff,” he said. “I knew where they were coming from and I knew what they did.”
There’s no question the staff’s proven ability to develop talent will play a crucial role in the three-star prospect’s decision, but that won’t necessarily be the biggest factor.
“Education, education, education,” Mr. Brown said emphatically. Education on what he wants to do after football and education about football (will be key).”
One clear non-factor will be distance.
“I still express to him that he has got to grow up and be a man, so try to do something outside the state of Texas,” said Mr. Brown. “Not to knock my own state because I love it to death, but I’d say it would be okay (if he went to Michigan) because I do have some family in South Bend. We went over there on Sunday, matter of fact Easter Sunday, so he could say he visit his cousins.”
“(Distance) won’t be a factor.”
That doesn’t mean the younger Brown is a lock for Michigan. Neither is Jackson for that matter. And the two friends aren’t a lock to play together at the next level. All that said, Mr. Brown isn’t shy about expressing his belief that if the talented youngsters do opt to be college teammates, Ann Arbor wouldn’t be a bad place to do so.
“At the end of the day they’re going to make their own decisions, (whether) they want to stick together or go their separate ways” said Mr. Brown. “Either way I expressed to them, ‘wherever you pick, pick where you can be taught the best.’ I expressed to them that a lot of these coaches talk about division championships. (Harbaugh) is the only coach that we talked to about BCS Championships. All these schools (were saying) we’re going to be division champions. I said, ‘nobody said BCS Championship but Harbaugh, and he’s got the staff to back him up. I think you guys really need to think about that.’”
“They want to hit Alabama, Louisiana… all that stuff. I said man, ‘what’s the point in going there if you aren’t going to commit there?’ He said, ‘you never know I still got to see it.’”
In other words a quick decision isn’t on the horizon, even if dad wants it to be.
Said Mr. Brown, “I talked to him about a timeline (as said), ‘man, and go ahead and get the paperwork done. He’s like, hey, I need to focus on getting better. I need to focus on school right now. I don’t even try to get him to do his top five or his top three. I kind of know what they are, but he is not telling it. I don’t want to push him too much because I know where he is going to go.”
“I don’t know-know, but I know what I’m going to put in his ear.”