Usually the NFL draft is reserved for guys that have actually produced on the field during their college careers. Usually, that is.
Of course, there are always exceptions. Count former Kansas State running back, Bryce Brown, as one of those exceptions after being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the seventh round on Saturday.
He went from being a five-star recruit in high school, to the University of Tennessee where he gained 460 yards a freshman, to Kansas State where he carried the ball three times during his sophomore season before quitting the team, to being selected by the Eagles during the NFL draft.
Not exactly the path most take to the NFL, but then again, nothing about Brown’s career to this point has been typical.
He didn’t sign a national letter of intent until nearly a month after national signing day before finally landing at Tennessee after Lane Kiffin was hired. After playing in every game for the Vols in 2009, some extenuating family circumstances forced him to leave the program after just one season.
He landed at Kansas State – he’s a Wichita, Kansas native – and sat out his first season due to the NCAA transfer rules. Big things were expected in 2011 for the high school star that scored 52 rushing touchdowns during his final two seasons at Wichita East. He figured to be the guy that would fill the gigantic shoes left by Daniel Thomas who had moved onto the NFL after exhausting his eligibility.
His tenure at Kansas State turned out to be a short one, however. After rushing for 73 yards in the spring game leading up to the 2011 season, he apparently decided it was a good idea to skip more than a few summer workouts. “I missed quite a few,” Brown said at the time. “But I was here and there, kinda doing my own thing. Now, we’re here in fall camp and the past is the past. I can’t go back and change it. I’m here now, working hard and trying to get back to where I was at.”
That’s not exactly the way to go about it when trying to get the coaching staff in your corner. From the get-go in fall camp, Brown was a step behind everyone else. “He’s been good, but he did not have a great summer,” then offensive coordinator Dana Dimel added. “He did not prepare himself.”
That led to three carries in the season opener against Eastern Kentucky. Those would be his only carries of the season before Brown seemingly vanished into thin air. The school wouldn’t even confirm or deny he was part of the team several weeks into the season. All head coach Bill Snyder had to say was, “Bryce is going through some difficult times right now and we’ll try to help him all we can.”
It seemed like another case of a top-flight recruit who failed to live up to the sometimes overwhelming expectations placed on 17 and 18 year old high school football players.
The Eagles though evidently saw enough potential in Brown to give him his shot at the big time. “What we saw there was talent … When his name was there at the end as opposed to going into free agency with this highly skilled player where you’re going to be in a bidding war, we decided to use that draft pick there, knowing there is a potential upside to him,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said following the draft.
Now the question becomes, what is Brown going to do with his second chance?
Brown hasn’t said much since his departure from Kansas State only stating, “I went to Kansas State, and it really just didn’t work out. I decided to leave and chase my dream of playing at the next level.”
“We took a chance here with Bryce Brown,” Reid said. “… You’re talking about a kid that’s an inch under 6-foot and 224 pounds and runs a 4.4 40. You’re talking tremendous, tremendous skill here. He catches the ball effortlessly, very smooth runner. He has all the talent in the word. It’s just a matter of tying things down there.”
Now that his dream is finally upon him, the ball if fully in his court to decide what happens from here. His track record would suggest that his run in Philly may be a short one. We will see, but maybe now that he’s been given another chance to revive his football career, the light bulb will finally come on and the work ethic that hasn’t always been there will show itself.
Let’s hope so, because this will likely be the last chance he gets.