Coach-speak: Malcom Brown

When people look at Malcom Brown, they see him as the No. 1 defensive tackle in the country. But the amazing thing, according to Brenham coach Glen West, is that Brown has only been playing the position for a few years.

In fact, when West first saw Brown, he was a 250-pound freshman fresh off playing running back in junior high.

"We knew even as a freshman that his potential was limitless," West said. "He was a 250-pound freshman that could really run. But up until then he didn't really understand how to play on the line. He thought of himself as a back, and he hadn't ever been taught to stay low.

"His potential was just tremendous, but he wasn't very mature," West said. "His work habits weren't great, but we knew he had potential."

Then came Brown's sophomore year. In the first game, the Dave Campbell Classic in San Antonio, Brown had his coming out party.

"He was just totally dominant," West said. "A lot of people weren't really expecting that, and they came up to me and said: 'who is that No. 90?' At that time, he was probably 280-285 pounds and he was just so quick, so fast, so strong and so aggressive.

"That was a game that you knew you had one of those great ones," West said. "Cedric Benson, Johnathan Gray, when you see them, you know as a coach you have something special there. There were several times we watched Malcom at practice and I saw things that amazed me. Things where you could really just say wow, if he doesn't want you to block him, you can't. He was that good."

The key in Brown's arrival as a football player? Taking care of the attitude. West said Brown morphed from the immature freshman to a senior who wanted to win every sprint at the end of practice.

"He went hard every single play, and when you do that, sometimes it just becomes a habit," West said. "It probably did with him. It became a habit of just going full speed. That was the thing about him that was fun to watch. He wasn't looking for time to take a play off. He pushed himself and he was a joy to coach at practice."

But West said, laughingly, that Brown wasn't always a joy for the scout teamers on the other side of the ball.

"When we were working first defense against the scout team, we actually had to tell him to stop," West said. "We had to tell him to go where he's supposed to go because he could give you false hope that you had a play stopped. So occasionally, we would say, 'if you don't mind, take a step hard where you're supposed to and stop.'

"He didn't understand or like that very much," West said. "He likes making tackles and enjoys getting to the ball carrier."

Brenham has been a factory for producing high-level college players, but West said that Brown is as good as any player he's had.

"He has that pure size/strength/speed combination," West said. "Sometimes, you have guys with size, but who don't have that motor. He has all of that. The interesting thing will be how he handles it in college when somebody actually can block him.

"That will be an adjustment to him, because he's so used to dominating," West said. "In high school he was truly dominant."

West said that Brown's development came because he had a different home life than teammate Tim Cole did. Brown's father passed away when he was young, and his uncle became a major figure in his life. And Brown was a poor student until the coaches sat him down and explained to him that, if he were going to play college football, he would have to become a good student, take harder courses and excel at them.

The coaches noticed Brown's work ethic when he was running the mile in six minutes as a 300 pounder, or when he was spending time at 1 p.m. in the blazing hot summer sun running up and down a hill by himself.

"But when we really realized he was the real deal was when we started watching his grades go up," West said. "Malcom went from a C student to an A student, and he did that in the name of getting to play college athletics.

"Now, he's to a point that we're using him as an example to our younger kids," West said. "He was a guy who wasn't ever a good student, but decided he wanted to play sports, and he did the work to make himself better."

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