Steve Robertson -

Bulldog Linebacker Begins Waiting Game Ahead of NFL Draft Days

If it is the last time these Bulldogs are together, well by golly Richie Brown and A.J. Jefferson were going to have some fun with it all.

At least jester Jefferson did, provoking straight-man Brown with the claim big Nick James had recorded a faster Pro Day time in the forty yards. “No, he did not,” Brown said, dry and dead-pan as usual.

It certainly would have been news if the defensive tackle had out-run a linebacker. Bad news for the ‘backer, that is. Of course nothing such happened. Brown notched a solid mid-fours clocking in both his dashes while James was the other side of five seconds.

More to the point of his position, Brown showed-up big in the explosion events. NFL scouts credited him at 9 feet, 8 inches in the standing broad jump; then 37-inches even for the vertical, which wasn’t far short of what defensive backs and running backs reached.

Following the forty, the media and fan standard, came more football-like drills. Shuttles, L-dashes, routes run forwards and backwards and side-to-side and most every sort of move a defender has to make on a real field.

Generally, Brown came away content he’d done his part.

“I feel happy with most everything. Maybe one or two drills I think I could have done better at. But, a pretty good day.”

This was by a pretty good Bulldog linebacker, too. For his four varsity seasons, the last two as a starter, Brown compiled 299 tackles—the most so far by any defender of Dan Mullen’s tenure. He had consecutive 100-tackle seasons as a junior and senior at middle linebacker.

And of course, Brown managed to play for no less than three different coordinators and position coaches along the way. Now the Long Beach native and married man is working for a shot to play for yet another coach, just on a different level of ball club.

Knowing that a professional future could hang on something so vague as a forty-yard dash, this old Dog was just a touch anxious taking his stance. “Your heart is racing,” said Brown. “It’s two months of preparation. You’ve constantly been thinking about this moment and have to calm yourself. Lean back on your roots of playing in games and stuff. Calm down and get ready to perform.”

Leading up to this one day Brown really did invest two whole months at the EXOS facility in Pensacola. A 2016 graduate, he of course was free of any college obligations. It was no vacation by any means, but at least “It was just beautiful weather.

“I think the coldest week we had was spring break, ironically. Good work, good people I was working with. So I’ve had a good two months.”

Months learning more about moving his body than learning any plays, too. Brown said he can tell the results already.

“I’ve gotten some better technique, a little bit more explosive, just a tad bit. Mobility, change of direction, I’ve been working on those things.” The work showed in how Brown went through those drills under unforgiving eyes, where second chances are rare.

Final chances, to be around teammates, will be rare as well in the upcoming years. So Wednesday was something of a reunion for these graduated or graduating Mississippi State seniors. Tomorrow, it’s back to grinding the body and girding the mind for months of waiting and wondering ahead of the NFL’s spring selection session.

Brown said he has a few visits with league folk coming up. “And who knows? Lord willing, waiting on the draft, just praying and relaxing.”

Oh, and maintaining his trademark beard. Though here again Jefferson still holds the trump cards, as Brown can finally admit.

“It’s not a comparison,” he said, looking at Jefferson’s fuller facial foliage and rubbing a thin spot of his own. “Missing spaces.”

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