Team Player

Jarrett Brown is finally ready to play a what he calls a "complete game." That begs the question: What would he term the performance versus Rutgers last year?

"It was a half-game," Brown said. "When I first went in against Rutgers, that first half I was nervous. But I settled down and the second half, it was fine. I think I am ready to play a whole game if I need to."

Brown shocked Mountaineer fans with his ability to throw and scramble, gashing the Scarlet Knights for 244 passing yards and one touchdown and running for another on a gorgeous scamper down the sideline. The 41-39 triple-overtime victory in the regular season finale was nationally viewed as holding little more significance than a feel-good story for WVU, who dashed Rutgers' hopes for a Big East title and the school's first berth in the Bowl Championship Series. Locally, fans realized the contest provided solid proof that the team has two legit quarterbacks, adding even more firepower to what has been termed the nation's best backfield.

There was a time, long before Brown's 40-yard scoring sprint or his game-winning 22-yard touch pass to Brandon Myles, when writers and pundits wondered if the three-star player would transfer. After a redshirt season in 2005 – one in which Patrick White seized control of the starting spot in the midst of another triple-overtime win, this against Louisville – Brown was seemingly locked into a backup role until 2009, when he would likely start. That's a lot of watching and waiting, something Brown considered in a quest for both the right fit and playing time.

"You know," White said, "he could probably start anywhere else."

Or be content at West Virginia, involved in and along for the ride as it tries to capture its first national championship.

"You're really only ever a snap away from playing," Brown said. "You just try to stay ready, be involved in the game and cheering on your teammates. You know what is going on and know that, at any moment, you could be in there. It's difficult not being out there, but knowing I could get in any time keeps me going."

Brown is so focused on playing quarterback that he said he has never considered trying to get on the field earlier by manning a slot wideout spot. At 6-4 and 220 pounds, Brown would be a huge target and his 4.53 speed is lethal in the open field. Head coach Rich Rodriguez said Wednesday that Brown could see time as a slash player, but that is less likely than the team using former quarterback and current receiver Nate Sowers and quarterback/wideout Adam Bednarik, both of whom worked with the first team on Monday.

Brown's value as a backup is a major asset; with as much as the Mountaineers run their quarterbacks, it's little wonder White and Bednarik, currently the third-stringer, have missed complete games because of injuries over the past two years. White even played both the South Florida and Gator Bowl games with ankle sprains and other ailments.

"The only time I have ever played receiver was when I was a tight end in little league," Brown said. "So I guess I have never really played it. I was too big. Tight end, that was back when I was really small. I have been a quarterback ever since right before high school. I like it, like being back there. So it never really crossed my mind. And it's fun to play quarterback. On that triple option we have, you have speed all over the field. There are so many options to get the ball in fast guys' hands. You can hand off the ball, the quarterback can keep it, can pitch it. It's a good time."

Brown has played in six games, starting one, and thrown for 384 yards on 28 of 47 passing. He has two touchdown passes and an interception, that coming against Rutgers. The West Palm Beach, Fla. native has rushed 32 times for 176 yards (5.3 ypc) and three scores.

Note: Brown said West Virginia's freshman players are impressive. He said the speed on this year's team should be better than at any time in his first two seasons.

"I think we are looking good for being so young," Brown said. "Things are coming together. You look at Brandon Hogan and Jock Sanders, they can make some plays. They are explosive. There are a lot of people that are playing different roles, but they are coming together and showing what they have. Usually when the young guys come in, you have to teach a lot of guys things. But a lot of these guys came in with good fundamentals. Brandon has good hands and he understands the game. Little things like catching the ball and getting upfield. And the way Noel Devine and Jock Sanders cut, it's so natural. It's hard to teach that, and those guys already have it."

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