Little Big Man

The Temple football team's 1-2 punch was down to 1 at running back in last Friday's season-opening 41-10 win over Villanova. But even on a hot night at Lincoln Financial Field, Matt Brown didn't mind the extended workload after Montel Harris left early with a hamstring injury. He's waited too long to not relish the chance to be the man.

The Temple football team's 1-2 punch was down to 1 at running back in last Friday's season-opening 41-10 win over Villanova.

But even on a hot night at Lincoln Financial Field, Matt Brown didn't mind the extended workload after Montel Harris left early with a hamstring injury.

Brown carried 19 times for 145 yards and a touchdown, returned four punts for 84 yards and three kicks for 41 yards.

"It was a heck of a night," said Temple coach Steve Addazio. "Typical Matt Brown. He's a warrior out there, just relentless. ... Kickoff returns, punt returns, spinning. He was gassed. He was gassed at halftime, but he came back out and kept going. He's a competitor."

Brown was Bernard Pierce's sidekick for three seasons and had opportunities to be the feature back in some games as Pierce dealt with a number of injuries throughout his career.

Harris transferred from Boston College this season and is the leading active rusher in BCS, and he has probably received more pre-season attention than Brown. But the 5-foot-5 incumbent senior is looking at the Owls as his team.

"I had to sit behind somebody for three years and I wanted to be the man for three years," admitted Brown. "Montel, he's going to get his share too. There's a lot of slices on this table, you know what I mean, but I love running the show."

Finally having a starting spot week in and week out is the reason Brown doesn't mind taking on any kind of work load Addazio and the offensive coaching staff want to give him.

"They can give me 50 (touches) if they want to, I just want to play," said Brown. "It's what I do, it's my passion. I just try to go as hard as I can until my body fails me.

"When it's not football season, I feel like a caged lion, so when football season is here, I love all of it. I told Coach once I was too tired to return a punt, and he told me just go in and fair-catch it. … But when they kicked it, I said I'm not going to fair-catch this."

A Baltimore native, Brown was lightly recruited in high school and in his prep school year at Milford Academy. He walked on at Temple, but admitted he didn't feel truly wanted at first.

"I was with AJax (Temple tight end Alex Jackson) up there at Milford, I was like ‘Man, can you put me on Temple, see if you can do something, they (stink)," recalled Brown as the Owls were beginning their building process under Al Golden. "He said he'd talk to the coach, he kind of helped me out a bit, but there was still no offer or ‘We really want you to walk on,' it was like ‘Can I walk on to your school, please? I need somewhere to go to school.'

"I wasn't going to a D-III school. My dad wanted me to go to a school called Iona or something like that, but if I was going to college, I was going to play D-I football."

Brown has never forgotten the slight in his recruitment and uses it as motivation even as he is approaching 2,500 yards in his career.

"Rhode Island was going to offer me, but I think their coaching staff got fired," said Brown. "Villanova actually came in and talked to me and acted like they had interest, but then I never heard from them again.

"You see kids come on visits, get treated nice and coaches go to their houses. I didn't get any of that, I couldn't get a D-II school to do that for me. There's always been frustration, anger and motivation."

But Brown has channeled those emotions into a role, a scholarship and now a starting spot on a Big East Conference football team. And as he noted, he's worked too hard to let that opportunity go.

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