Corey Sears and Eric Brown Remember MSU Years

A pair of former Mississippi State defenders took the field for the Houston Texans In New Orleans this past weekend.<P> Corey Sears and Eric Brown, playing on multiple MSU bowl teams in the mid-1990s, were both big cogs in the Texans' win over Miami to open this 2003 season. Sears filled-in for injured ex-Auburn star Randy Walker as a defensive lineman last week and Brown was in on six tackles as Houston dumped the Dolphins.

Sears and Brown, a Texans cornerback, played high school football at Converse Judson High School in Texas before winding up at Mississippi State during their last two years of college. Sears first played junior college ball at Navarro in Texas while Brown also went the JUCO route, staying in his home state and playing at Blinn.

"I ended up at State but Eric was a few years behind me," said Corey Sears. "In high school, I was like three years ahead of him in the Converse Judson program."

Their time in Starkville came during the tenure of current MSU coach Jackie Sherrill, whose pipeline to the NFL shows 22 players currently active in the league.

"You don't know them all, but you still talk to them on the field after games," said Eric Brown. "I've visited with Fred Smoot, Big (Robert) Hicks was around for a while, Robert Bean, Greg Favors ... I can't name everybody but you do follow those sorts of things."

Sears received his degree in psychology but Brown didn't obtain his.

"I plan to go back eventually and get it," Brown said. "It will be in interdisciplinary studies."

Sears said his time in junior college helped shape him for these boom years. His six-figure income could not, he claims, have been earned without his time in junior college.

"It prepared me for later in college and later with the football," Sears said. "I got my academics started the right way. It made me mature early on.

"And for a kid who goes straight to a big school, they are likely to get redshirted. I was able to step right in and play immediately. That helped me to keep playing right out of high school and not have to wait. I learned (college) techniques and it was a boost."

Brown said ex-MSU defensive backs coach Melvin Smith helped his growth and he said he'll never forget the impact Jackie Sherrill had on him.

"You can't ever forget Jackie Wayne," Brown said. "He was good at showing you the business side to all this. He helped me see that this game is just like a business. This is just like a job. Jackie always took a business approach but you knew he cared about his players, too."

Brown has started 68 of his 69 career NFL games since being drafted by Denver Broncos in the second round back in 1998. His first season saw him pick up NFL All-Rookie honors as the Broncos beat Green Bay in the Super Bowl.

Pat Wright is a free lance writer who writes articles for Gene's Page.

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