Ask James Brown

Former Longhorn QB and NFL Europe star James Brown answers your questions on a QB balancing when to run, his relationship with Mack Brown and his thoughts on an early signing period.

Legendary Longhorn QB James Brown (1994-97) answers your Texas football-related questions. Brown led Texas to three consecutive conference titles, including the inaugural Big 12 Conference championship. If you have a question for James, please submit it to, with the subject "Ask James" by 5 p.m., Tuesday.

Q: How did you balance your decision of when to throw or when to run? Was there a specific number of check-downs for you?

BROWN: I was a big runner in high school. As my collegiate career went on, I stopped running as much. I ran the ball more during my first two years in college. I had a great offensive line. I had Dan Neil and those guys blocking for me, so I became comfortable in the pocket. I never felt like I had to run. The type of offense that (coach John) Mackovic wanted was a stay-in-the-pocket quarterback. That's just how he coached and just learned my reads. When you get your reads right, you don't have to run as much. A lot of people have told me they wish I had run more, but I played with Ricky (Williams), Priest (Holmes) an Shon (Mitchell). They were the runners.

Q: Do you have a relationship with Mack Brown? It would be great to have you representing UT in some role in the future.

BROWN: I have a lot of respect for Mack Brown I consider Mack Brown a friend. Coach Brown has an open-door policy (for former UT lettermen), and every time I'm up there I stop by and say hello. He's usually busy, but he at least says 'hello'. A lot of people thought (former Texas coach John) Mackovic didn't do enough of that.

When I first came back from playing football (NFL Europe) to get my degree, coach Brown put me on scholarship. I came back at the same time as Tre Thomas and we stayed together while we got our degrees. I was 12 hours from getting a Liberal Arts degree in Management, and it (scholarship) covered tuition, books and meals. Getting my degree was real important to me, and the scholarship allowed me to come back and get my degree.

I'm now the quarterbacks coach at Lamar University (note: Lamar's program was discontinued in 1989; it will resume in 2010). I'll be recruiting in Houston this weekend. I've been looking at a lot of game film. The advantage I have right now is teams are still playing and our season is two years away. I have the opportunity recruit eight hours a day. A lot of the coaches in this area still remember me. They're eager to help me out with their players and identifying prospective Division-I athletes. There's so much to learn that I'm still nervous about making a mistake. I'm just watching how the older guys are doing it but, so far, things are going well.

Q. You've played for a high-profile program, and now you're trying to revive another program. What is your opinion regarding an early signing period for football?

BROWN: Personally, an early signing period wouldn't have hurt me when I was going through the recruiting process. I knew where I was going before I took my remaining visits. I took two of five visits. I visited Syracuse. I was supposed to go to Alabama, but I didn't go. I didn't want to lead coaches on. I didn't want to waste their time or money. Recruiting can become a hassle. You're a high school student trying to get through finals and coaches are always calling. You get a lot of calls and there's all this new information coming in. You don't know what to do or who to trust. I would have liked an early Signing Day as a player.

These days, I'm recruiting against (Texas DE coach) Oscar Giles and guys like that. I'm talking to kids who are looking at Texas, LSU and those kind of programs. It's tough for me (because) I'm not recruiting the best guys; I'm recruiting the second-best guys. An early Signing Day lets those kids make the decision for the schools they've always wanted to attend. The JCs (junior colleges) have a couple of early Signing Days, and it works for them. In fact, we're going to have to get JC-transfers early (at Lamar).


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James Brown (1994-96) guided Texas to three straight conference championships, including the final Southwest Conference and inaugural Big 12 titles. Brown ranks No. 2 all-time at UT in career passing yards (7,638) and third all-time with 58 touchdown passes.

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