Brown Kicking it Cross Country

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Five months ago, Terrence Brown was finishing spring practice at Fresno City Junior College in California. On Saturday night, the junior punter will fulfill a lifelong dream when he runs out of the players' tunnel at Kenan Stadium as a North Carolina Tar Heel.

"My dream has always been to play Division I football," Brown said. "And I didn't get the offers that I would have liked, and we have a great junior college program in Fresno. [Head] coach [Tony Caviglia] does a good job of getting players out to the D-I level, so I thought that would be my best choice and I could also get my academics done there that would transfer to the Division I school that I hopefully would be going."

UNC special teams coordinator John Lovett and tight ends coach Steve Hagen had previous contacts with Caviglia, who sent Brown's film to Chapel Hill in April. The North Carolina coaching staff extended a scholarship offer, and an official visit was scheduled shortly thereafter. That cross country trip was all it took for Brown to make a decision.

"I was out here two weeks later and committed while I was here," Brown said. "I just liked everything about it. It's real different than where I'm from, but it's a good difference."

While the coaching staff felt good about senior Connor Barth's placekicking and Brandon Tate's big-play return ability, the third component of the special teams unit drew scrutiny during spring practice. Walk-on senior John Choate had seen minimal live game action during his career, and experience was something head coach Butch Davis felt was needed at the punter position.

The Fresno, Calif. native's experience at the junior collegiate level allowed him to jump to the top of the depth chart at UNC this fall, and his progress through training camp drew praise from Davis.

"We were so fortunate to find Terrence Brown - that was a huge, huge addition to this football team because not only does it help field position-wise, and him playing in college and have the experience of being in games and kicking under pressure was a big key for him coming in," Davis said. "We've been very pleased with the operations of all of our kicking game… Our punting game has been even more impressive because Terrence is used to being in games and getting the ball out quick - that's been at 1.95 and under 2.1 [seconds]."

Brown said his junior college experience helped with his quick adjustment to the Division I level of collegiate football.

"Playing in junior college – it's not necessarily Division I football, but it is college football," Brown said. "So you get a little bit of a feel for the game and the game speed – it's a lot different than high school. The game speed is much faster."

Brown can do about anything the staff asks him to do with the football, from kickoffs to field goals, although he was recruited primarily as a punter.

"We're asked to do different things, such as pooch punt or field punt," Brown said. "We stand at about the [opponent's] 45 or the [opponent's] 40, depending on where the ball is, and then just try to hang the ball up as high as we can so that we can give our gunners the best chance to down it inside the 10-yard line."

The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder is aiming for 4.5 seconds to 4.7 seconds on his hang time, and admits that he will not be happy with any punts under 40 yards that were not intentional. Despite his attention to detail and his focus to the game plan, Brown is having a hard time preventing the thrill and anticipation of his first Division I appearance on Saturday night creep into his mind.

"I try not to let the excitement get to me, because I want to stay level-headed for game time," Brown said. "But it's going to be real fun running out of that tunnel with about 60,000 people watching. We did the mock game last week and got to run out, and that was exciting enough, but with 60,000 people it's going to be even better."

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