Ray Brown a force for Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt fifth-year senior defensive tackle Ray Brown is a warrior who has battled through injuries and coaching changes to emerge as a leader on the for the Commodore defensive line.

So far this season Brown has 20 tackles and one tackle for a loss.; not a huge total but what Brown lacks on statistics he makes up for in the opportunities he creates for his defensive teammates. The New Jersey native frequently channels opposing running backs towards quicker Commodore linebackers, like Jonathan Goff, who is one of the top tacklers in the SEC. Brown is also used to apply pressure on the opposition's quarterbacks which helps the defense to get interceptions. The Commodore defense already has almost as many interceptions in 2006 (8) as it did in 2005 (9) and there are still five games left to play.

After battling through nagging injuries for much of his first four years, Ray Brown is seeing significant action and is making his presence known on the field. The hard working but modest Brown credits first year defensive line coach Rick Logo for much of his improvement. "I think coach Logo has definitely added a lot of knowledge of the position to my game this year. He has helped me learn to read things better up front and understand what they are trying to do to us in order to stop the run," commented the burly senior.

Brown feels the biggest factor in his improvement has been the instruction by Logo in proper footwork. "Proper footwork is definitely the most important thing we've learned this year," said Brown.

Another vital contribution by Brown has been the leadership he's provided to not only the defensive front but the team as a whole. Logo has noticed Brown's leadership ability, "His leadership has paid off in regards to leading by example. He is the glue of our group throughout this whole season. When you have good leadership, you have good followers, and I think that's how our defensive line has progressed, because of his leadership," said Logo.

Head coach Bobby Johnson has also noticed Brown's superb performance, "I think Ray has had his healthiest year and that's helped him a whole bunch. We've always felt like he could be a very effective player. He's got the mobility and the strength and he's been using both of them this year because he's a little healthier. He and Theo (Horrocks) certainly give us a force inside," said the fifth year coach.

This week Brown and his teammates face South Carolina on Saturday afternoon. What about the Gamecocks concerns Brown? "They've got a really experienced center, Chris White, I played against him the last two or three years. They've got some guys shuffled around but they are going to be a good offensive front," explained Brown.

Kickoff is at 2 p.m. CST at Vanderbilt Stadium.

Ray Brown (at right) puts pressure on Georgia quarterback Joe Tereshinski. (VM/Stan Jones)

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