A four-year starter at Georgia who finished his career as the fifth-leading rusher in school history, Brown has been hired as Wisconsin's running backs coach to complete Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen's staff heading into its second season.
Brown replaces Thomas Hammock, who left earlier this month to join the staff of the Baltimore Ravens. As running back coach, Hammock helped Montee Ball win the Doak Walker Award in 2012, develop James White into an all-purpose back and turn Melvin Gordon – who rushed for 1,609 yards and 7.8 yards per carry last season – into an early Heisman Trophy favorite this upcoming season.
Hammock also helped convince Corey Clement, who rushed for 547 yards last season, to stay despite the coaching upheaval last winter, added two three-star tailbacks in the 2014 class in Taiwan Deal and Caleb Kinlaw and secured verbal commitments in Georgia (Jeremy Patterson and Krenwick Sanders) for Wisconsin in the first time in more than a decade.
It appears Brown, 27, has the credentials to carry on that success in both areas.
In his first season coaching at the division 1 level, Brown was a part of Marshall's running attack that ranked No. 23 nationally in rushing, averaged 205.9 rushing yards per game and had three tailbacks run for over 500 yards each.
He also was a part of a large effort to recruit the state of Georgia for the Thundering Herd, as Marshall signed nine players from Georgia, including three from the Atlanta area, during the recent recruiting class, the most from any one state.
To learn more about Brown, his coaching style and his recruiting impact, BadgerNation reached out to HerdHaven Publisher Aaron Perkins.
Although he was only there for one season, how did Thomas Brown impact Marshall's running game?
Perkins: Marshall returned its top four running backs from the previous season. Due to mistakes on and off the field to the top two backs in Steward Butler and Kevin Grooms, Brown had to make adjustments, which led to him going with former walk-on running back Essray Taliaferro. Taliaferro led the team in rushing yards with over 1,100 yards on the year. Marshall, known as fast paced passing team, rushed for nearly 3,000 yards on the year, ending at 2,883. Brown was a big impact to the running game, which enabled the Herd to hold on to leads much easier, and cruise into the finish line.
What kind of coach is Brown and how does he relate to his players? How did the players relate to him?
Perkins: Brown is a hands-on coach that still looks like a player. This enabled him to relate very well to the players as it wasn't too long ago that he was one himself. The players, in turn, related very well to him, and the running back group became a very tight unit.
When things weren't going right in the running game last season, how did Brown adjust the running game? Did the adjustments work?
Perkins: The running attack actually never slacked off, primarily due to Brown recognizing the need for depth. Taliaferro, Grooms and Butler started the year as the main three. Butler had issues holding onto the ball and Grooms had injuries, then later personal issues. Taliaferro became the work horse, with Butler working his way back into the mix. At the end of the year, with Grooms suspended and Butler hurt, Brown worked Watson back into the mix on two crucial drives in the bowl win over Maryland.
How good of a recruiting coach was Brown? What areas did he recruit for the Herd?
Perkins: Excellent recruiter. Brown teamed with a couple other Herd staff members and killed it in Georgia. Marshall ended up signing nine kids from Georgia, many of which were worked by Brown.
How good of a hire is this for Wisconsin and its pro-style running game?
Perkins: I think this will be a very good hire, short term, for Wisconsin. Brown did a great job coaching and recruiting for Marshall. Marshall's offense is a lot different than Wisconsin, but I am sure he will adjust as he will be coaching more of a style that he actually played in at Georgia. The question is will he be able to recruit the Georgia area for Wisconsin against schools such as Georgia and the SEC? At Marshall he was able to recruit kids that may or may not be eligible, which won't be the case for the Badgers.