Pa­tience pays off for Cow­boys' Brown Af­ter Hill's in­jury and King's trans­fer, Brown makes most of his chance

Tulsa World - - Sports - By Mark Cooper he

STILL­WA­TER — Ev­ery­thing changed for LD Brown in just one week.

Ok­la­homa State's sea­son opener felt like a break­out game to be­gin his third year in Still­wa­ter. He broke for 110 yards on just nine car­ries as OSU routed Mis­souri State.

His first carry against South Alabama, go­ing for 14 yards, con­tin­ued his up­ward tra­jec­tory, un­til it didn't.

Brown left the field hob­bled by an­kle pain. He wouldn't be heard from again for two months.

“It was re­ally a frus­trat­ing time be­cause it just lin­gered,” Brown said. “A high an­kle sprain, they say it's bet­ter to break your an­kle than to have a high an­kle sprain be­cause it's go­ing to linger for a while. It still lingers, hon­estly. Some­thing you've just got to fight through.”

For the sopho­more from De­Soto, Texas, the tim­ing of the in­jury couldn't have been worse. First, he signed in the Mis­souri vs. Ok­la­homa State 2:45 p.m. Dec. 31 At Lib­erty Bowl Me­mo­rial Sta­dium, Mem­phis, Tenn.

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same class as Jus­tice Hill. While Brown red­shirted in 2016, Hill staked his claim as OSU's star back. Then, in a year in which the Cow­boys had a quar­tet of run­ning backs that ar­guably stacked up with any­one in the coun­try this pre­sea­son, his in­jury made him an af­ter­thought be­hind Hill, Chuba Hub­bard and J.D. King.

But Hill got hurt, and King an­nounced he was trans­fer­ring. For OSU's fi­nal two reg­u­lar-sea­son games, the for­got­ten man among the Cow­boy run­ning backs was thrust into a backup role be­hind Hub­bard, a red­shirt fresh­man.

With Hill an­nounc­ing

would forgo the Lib­erty Bowl game against Mis­souri on Dec. 31, Brown fig­ures to have a sim­i­lar role in three weeks. And with a thin­ning run­ning back corps, his prospects for 2019 are look­ing up, too.

“A lot can change in a mat­ter of time,” Brown said. “Don't take noth­ing for granted.”

In lim­ited op­por­tu­ni­ties, Brown has show­cased big-play abil­ity and speed. He av­er­aged 6.6 yards per carry last sea­son, rush­ing for 223 yards and three touch­downs on just 34 car­ries.

He was dy­namic against West Vir­ginia this year, too, rush­ing for 26 yards on four touches. TCU shut him down like the rest of OSU's of­fense, lim­it­ing him to 5 yards on 10 car­ries.

But the 10 car­ries matched a sea­son high — and pro­vided some val­i­da­tion for Brown, who said he main­tained a smile on his face and a pa­tient dis­po­si­tion while wait­ing for his chance.

“The big­gest story go­ing around col­lege foot­ball, the Jalen Hurts sit­u­a­tion with Tua (Tago­v­ailoa). … In our sit­u­a­tion, J-Hill did get hurt. J.D. did end up trans­fer­ring, and now it's just me and Chuba,” Brown said. “You never know what will hap­pen. You've just got to keep faith.”

Just a year ago, Hill and King ac­counted for nearly 88 per­cent of hand­offs to OSU run­ning backs. Brown had 34, and for­mer OSU back Ja'Ron Wil­son had the other 17. Hub­bard red­shirted.

Now, al­though true fresh­man Jah­myl Jeter could play in the bowl game and will be a fac­tor next year, Hub­bard and Brown have carved out a larger role in the fu­ture of this of­fense than any­one would have guessed.

“It's like I said, you've just got to be pa­tient,” Brown said. “I didn't find my­self iso­lat­ing my­self from my team­mates or any­thing like that. I just tried to keep faith and have hope and just do what I can do.”

AT­LANTA — Ge­or­gia na­tive Ge­off Collins said Fri­day he landed his dream job when hired to re­turn as Ge­or­gia Tech's coach.

Most no­table among changes the for­mer Tem­ple coach will bring to the Yel­low Jack­ets will be a shift from the spread-op­tion of­fense used by for­mer coach Paul Johnson the last 11 years.

At his in­tro­duc­tory news con­fer­ence af­ter his hir­ing was an­nounced early Fri­day, Collins said he will in­stall “NFL-based” schemes on of­fense and de­fense. Those changes will be a chal­lenge for play­ers re­cruited by Johnson for the run-first at­tack with its triple-op­tion plays.

Collins said he be­gan re­cruit­ing im­me­di­ately to pre­pare for the early sign­ing pe­riod that be­gins on Dec. 19. There will be some key needs, pos­si­bly in­clud­ing at quar­ter­back, to jump-start the tran­si­tion to a pro-style of­fense.

“I've al­ready been watch­ing tape on the plane,” Collins said, adding “Re­cruit­ing mat­ters. That is a huge pri­or­ity for us.”

The 47-year-old Collin, is a for­mer Florida and Mis­sis­sippi State de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor and Ge­or­gia Tech as­sis­tant who was 15-10 in two sea­sons at Tem­ple.

Be­fore his time at Florida (2015-16) and Mis­sis­sippi State (2011-14), Collins was a grad­u­ate as­sis­tant and tight ends coach at Ge­or­gia Tech un­der coach Ge­orge O'Leary from 1999-2001. He re­turned to serve as re­cruit­ing co­or­di­na­tor at Tech un­der coach Chan Gai­ley in 2006.

A na­tive of Cony­ers, Ge­or­gia, Collins said he be­gan dream­ing about even­tu­ally be­com­ing Ge­or­gia Tech's coach dur­ing his two stints as an as­sis­tant. He said the op­por­tu­nity, which de­vel­oped quickly when Johnson stepped down on Nov. 28, was not ex­pected.

“I formed a vi­sion in my head in mul­ti­ple stops I've been here of what this place can be, what this place should be,” he said.

He spoke of em­pha­siz­ing the Ge­or­gia Tech brand and cul­ture.

“Re­cruits choose brands and our brand should be as strong as any­where in the coun­try and it's go­ing to be,” Collins said.

He said he would take ad­van­tage of the school's tough aca­demic re­quire­ments as a sell­ing point in re­cruit­ing “to come to a place where ed­u­ca­tion mat­ters.”

Collins also spent a sea­son as di­rec­tor of player per­sonal at Alabama in 2007, Nick Sa­ban's first sea­son lead­ing the Crim­son Tide.

Tem­ple ath­letic di­rec­tor Pa­trick Kraft said as­sis­tant coach Ed Fo­ley will serve as in­terim coach for the In­de­pen­dence Bowl against Duke on Dec. 27.

Collins had an 8-4 record with a 7-1 mark in the Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence this sea­son. in one of the na­tion's upand-com­ing coaches to re­place Hall of Famer Bill Sny­der.

Lit­trell told the Mean Green in a meet­ing Fri­day that he would not be leav­ing for the Wild­cats. It ended a courtship

MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World

Ok­la­homa State's LD Brown (right) tries to outrun West Vir­ginia's Toy­ous Avery Jr. in Still­wa­ter on Nov. 17. LIB­ERTY BOWL

JOHN BAZEMORE/AP

Newly hired Ge­or­gia Tech foot­ball coach Ge­off Collins speaks dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Fri­day in At­lanta.in which Lit­trell met with Kansas State of­fi­cials sev­eral times this week. North Texas will face Utah State in the New Mex­ico Bowl next week.

BUTCH DILL/AP

Alabama quar­ter­back Tua Tago­v­ailoa scram­bles for yardage against Mis­sis­sippi State in Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Nov. 10. Tago­v­ailoa has been wear­ing a boot and rid­ing a scooter due to an an­kle pro­ce­dure.

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