Brown seeks redemption with move to DE

At this time a year ago, Christian Brown was preparing for his sophomore season as the backup to Shaq Rowell at nose guard for West Virginia.

Now, Brown is slimmer - after cutting down from 308 pounds to 290 - and ready to settle into his new role as a defensive end for a Mountaineer defense that is looking to continue improving.

But this season is important to the sophomore from Fort Myers, Fla., for a different reason. After missing the last nine games of the 2013 season with an injury, he's looking to redeem himself.

The Monday after WVU's 37-0 loss to Maryland, WVU was going through its early-morning workouts as it usually does, and when it was time to do box jumps everything was going the way they normally do. But on one of his jumps, Brown heel hit the bottom of the box – causing his ankle to twist much more than it is supposed to.

The diagnosis was a season-ending dislocated ankle, and he admitted he felt as if he had let his team down.

"It was pretty tough to sit there and watch my boys struggle the way we did. You can't be out there and it kind of feels like it's your fault, you're just helpless because you want to be out there helping and you just can't," Brown said. "I tried to do whatever I could to just keep myself positive and try to motivate them in whatever way I could though."

After mentioning it to him a few times in the past, the coaching staff made the decision to try moving Brown out to defensive end in the spring. From there, after the initial adjustment period, Brown said he feels things have gone smoothly.

"Playing nose and playing defensive end are two very different spots," he said. "At the end, I've got to watch and try to get past my tackle while also keeping an eye on and containing the quarterback. It's stuff that you can get used to pretty quick, but I didn't have to do it at the nose, so it takes time.

"That was the hardest thing for me so far."

For a player who grew up idolizing San Diego Charger Dwight Freeney, getting to play defensive end has always been something Brown has wanted to do. So when he finally got the opportunity to do so, he made sure he was doing whatever it took to make sure he was ready to make the transition as smoothly as possible.

"I kind of struggled at it the first couple of practices, but once I got the hang of it, I got comfortable," Brown said. "I had to get in shape. I had to get my speed up and work on my pass rush move because, honestly, at nose you don't have to have any."

With his mind set on being successful at his new position and feeling fully healthy after rehabbing for three months after the injury, Brown is ready to build off his past struggles and continue moving forward.

"I just had to keep positive. This has kind of opened my eyes a lot because I've had to change my attitude and the way I play now," Brown said. "It made me better."

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