There have been many memorable plays and football players at the University of Texas over the years but there are some (of both) that inevitably rise above the rest and remain embedded in our minds forever.Â If you attended the University of Texas you had a â€œquarterbackâ€ that defined your time on the Forty Acres.Â For some it was Vince Young, for others maybe it was Colt McCoy or Major Applewhite.â€¦ the list goes on and on.Â For me it was James Brown.Â Â Brown arrived on campus as the stateâ€™s most highly regarded quarterback prospect in 1993 and redshirted his first year, as Shea Morenz had retained the starting job from the ’92 season in which the Longhorns finished tied for 2nd in the Southwest Conference.Â In 1994 after an injury to Morenz in the Colorado game, Brown was given the opportunity to start and never looked back.Â The Beaumont Westbrook product would remain the starting quarterback for the Longhorns until he left Austin after his senior season in 1997.Â Brown won first-team All-Southwest Conference honors in 1995, becoming the first Longhorn to do so in 20 years, when Marty Akins last did in 1975.
Brown was the first African-American quarterback to start a game at The University of Texas since Donnie Little did in 1978.Â Â He was a competitor at heart and his play surged the Longhorns back into the spotlight after an electric win against the two-time defending champion Nebraska Cornhuskers in the inaugural Big XII Championship Game in 1996. Â Given where the Texas football program was at the time, James Brownâ€™s accomplishments on the field were a significant contributor to the resurgence in the Longhorn program we witnessed in the late 90â€™s and continue today.
Brown spent six years in NFL Europe and in the Arena League after playing at the University of Texas and coached at Hyde Park Baptist High School in Austin for a few years after that.Â Horn Sports was lucky enough to catch up with the busy former quarterback and ask him a few quick questions about life and football…
It has been quite a while since Texas fans last saw you as a student-athlete on the field in 1997.Â What are you up to these days?
Â Currently I am back at home in Beaumont as a Running Back and Special Teams Coach for Lamar University.Â Iâ€™m enjoying my position. In John Mackovic’s pro-style offense, I had the pleasure of making run game checks and studying some good running backs, like Priest Holmes, Ricky Williams, and Shon Mitchell, whom I still reach out to for info.Â Also Major is a RB coach, and he helps fill in some blanks when I call. Itâ€™s good to give back and see these young men grow as I did in college.Â Very familiar territory at times. ..
Â Texas played in the Southwest Conference for more than 80 years beforeÂ moving to the Big XII Conference in 1996.Â From a player perspective,Â what was it like for the program and the team to make the transitionÂ to the Big XII Conference?
Â For me it meant better / different competition. Our 1995-1996 team was up for the challenge.Â At the time Nebraska and Colorado were top tier teams and critics thought that the Big XII North would run away with the first Conference Title. We played with a purpose and a chip on our shoulder.Â As a player, a new conference meant a bigger platform to put Texas back on the map.
The Longhorns won the inaugural Big XII Championship by beatingÂ defending national champion Nebraska in the Big XII Championship gameÂ in St. Louis.Â Critical to the win was the infamous â€œRoll Leftâ€ playÂ orchestrated on 4th and inches in which you hit Derek Lewis to seal the victory.Â Talk us through how the play was called and executed.
Roll Left – is a Goal Line Package play with 2 RB’s and 3 TE’s. 2RB’s and 1TE are in the backfield.Â It is part of the Rock (Run) and Roll (Pass) Package that Coach Mackovic borrowed from the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s a play that we ran a few times over my career. The concept is to draw the defensive secondary in with a 3 RB Downhill runfake.Â The combination an aggressive “D” like Nebraska, and the respected backfield of Priest and Ricky pulled 11 Nebraska defenders up and D Lewis got behind everyone.
What was it like to face Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry for the first time?
Â The Red River Game was my first ever collegiate start, so, helping us win that game, gave me great momentum on the field as a player, and in the stands with the fans. Confidence on any playing field, and support in the stands, can yield amazing results.
Best of luck to Coach James Brown and the Lamar Cardinals on a successful season in the Southland Conference next year.Â Â In case you don’t remember “Roll Left,” see video below.Â ” Hook â€˜Em.