Brown enrolled at NC State last season as a 6'3 240 pound linebacker who dominated as a senior at Pembroke (NC) Purnell Swett High School. He finished his senior season with 165 tackles and 12 sacks, leading to an offer from NC State, the program he wanted to attend all along.
Brown assumed that he would make his mark at linebacker, the position he played his entire life, but it appears he was wrong.
One of the main reasons he's made the transition that he has is because he has been able to add muscle mass and weight without losing his speed. Brown now checks in regularly between 280 and 285 pounds, more than a 40 pound increase from his first practice at NC State.
"I weighed in today at 282 pounds," he said. "It's helping me a lot because in the spring I was about 265, and I can tell it's a big change. I'm stronger, quicker, and now I can use my weight more at defensive tackle."
"Last year during board drills it felt sometimes like they had me on skates, but now it's harder for them to push me around... I'm doing the pushing around now," Brown added.
Although he's still learning the fundamentals of playing defensive tackle, Brown points out that the experience he had playing linebacker is an advantage over other tackles.
"It really helps me because I know how to use my hands from it," he said. "Playing linebacker in high school, I had to learn how to shed blocks so it helps me do the same at tackle."
One of the strongest players on the team, Brown's hard work in the weightroom and on the practice field has help him crack the two-deep lineup at defensive tackle. He's competing with red-shirt sophomore John McCargo at left tackle but admits that it's a friendly competition.
"Right now I'm working with McCargo at left tackle," he said. "John's a good player, and I've learned a lot from him. I watch him come off the ball and take notes from him. I don't really call it a battle because with how we rotate everyone's going to get reps."
Last year's defense struggled at times because of youth and inexperience along the line. But with newcomers like Brown, the return of stars like Mario Williams and McCargo, and the potential impact of Manny Lawson, NC State should be in great shape up front in 2004.
"I think we'll be improved," Brown said. "We're older and it's time for the line to come together and lead."
Renaldo Moses, "Tank" Tyler, and Martrel Brown