Looking To Turn the Corner

A film, television and theatre major, Justin Brown produced, directed and edited a three-minute long silent film starring teammate Maurice Crum Jr., and a young lady. It was a romance movie, and Brown liked putting the project together so much, he hopes to do something like that again. Like Crum, he also hopes to be a star in Notre Dame's new 3-4 defense this coming fall.

"He thinks he deserves an Oscar," Brown said of Crum laughing. "It was pretty funny."

The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Brown didn't find it funny when he learned that a theatre class conflict would cause him to miss a few early spring practices. Irritation describes what Brown was feeling, as he wasn't getting the same chance to learn the new schem as everyone else. However, the senior-to-be defensive end isn't expected to miss another practice.

Good thing to, because Irish defensive line coach Jappy Oliver pulled Brown aside before the spring and said this is your time. Brown had played in a reserve role the past two seasons, but with the graduation of starters Victor Abiamiri and Chris Frome, the Clinton, Md., product will have a chance to earn a starting role. Trevor Laws will take on one of those spots. Brown is in the mix for the other.

"I think he still needs to turn the corner, because it's his time," Oliver stated. Brown had 12 tackles as a sophomore, and five tackles and his first career sack last season. "All indication is he will."

"Basically since I've been here, everybody has been waiting for me to turn that corner," Brown said. "I guess coach Weis uses the expression let your nuts drop, and I mean I think it is about my time to let that happen. Basically this offseason was a big part of that, working hard and basically developing mentally. Being able to make those plays they are ready for me to make."

Out of Bishop McNamara High, Brown didn't play his freshman season at Notre Dame. Many people forget that he had only played organized football for one season. Sixty-five tackles and nine sacks later, Brown was drawing national interest.

A raw talent when he first arrived in South Bend, Brown developed enough that he even earned a start one game as a sophomore.

"I guess my biggest thing when I came here was, was I going to be physical enough," Brown said. "Basically it had to do a lot with the weight room and mental attitude. I think I changed a lot in that area the last couple of years.

"I think what's helped me is being around guys, the first year I was here (Justin) Tuck was here and Victor and Derek (Landri) when they were here, just looking at them and learning from them and how they work hard and their practice effort and basically mentally and how they carry themselves."

Brown is going to have to be real physical in this new defense. He is a little behind the curve missing a few practices because of class. At 255 pounds, he is also a little undersized. Laws, who will probably play on the left side of the defense, is 295 pounds. But new defensive coordinator Corwin Brown has said in a nutshell, that even though size helps, if you play with good technique and know what you're doing, size will not hinder the player in his system.

"Once we can get him settled in and learning the defense, I think he's going to be okay," Oliver said. "The biggest problem, especially on that right side is I got some undersized guys. I think Dwight's (Stephenson Jr.) about 250, Justin's about 255, I know no more, I tell them every night they better not miss a meal or miss any weight workouts. We just have to get them bigger and stronger.

"It helps if you are bigger, but we're not playing tomorrow, we're not playing next month, we're playing in August. We have a plan to get them bigger and stronger, and we'll stick to that plan."

While Brown is eating a few more servings during his meals, he is also trying to catch up and learn the new defensive scheme.

"Everybody is in the learning process, and we're trying to figure things out, and everybody is getting frustrated, but it's a progression so everybody is coming along," Brown said. "I'm not necessarily lost, but everyday is a new learning step. I just look at it like that."

Looking at it like that, Brown is expecting to turn the corner in the fall.

"Just turning it loose, making plays, being an athlete, being a football player," Brown said. "Making plays I know I'm capable of making, that's basically it."

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