While many of today’s top head coaches and coordinators were standout players in college, that doesn’t always have to be the path taken. A number of successful head coaches and coordinators use their love, passion and knowledge for the game to make them very good at their jobs.
Neal Brown, new offensive coordinator for the Kentucky Wildcats, fits that bill. Brown was a walk-on at UK in the late 1990s, catching 10 total passes, including a touchdown, before transferring to Massachusetts.
Brown, a native of Danville, Ky., was a quick study on the field and in the classroom. He knew the offense inside and out, and was a member of the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll during his time at UK.
After working his way up through the coaching ranks, Brown become offensive coordinator at Troy during the 2008 season. His team ranked 27th nationally in total offense, at 414 yards per game. The following year, Troy was third nationally, with 485 yards per contest.
Brown left his post at Troy and moved to Lubbock, Texas to be the offensive coordinator for the Texas Tech Red Raiders. His three teams in Lubbock were 15th (2010), 13th (2011) and 12th (2012) in the country in total offense. In 2012, Brown’s offense was also second in the nation in passing offense (361.9 yards per game) and 16th in scoring offense (37.8 points per game).
Now, the former Wildcat walk-on returns to Lexington, coaching the offense for the team he grew up cheering for, and coaching basically the same offense he played in while he was a Wildcat. The Big Blue Nation is excited about new head coach Mark Stoops and all that he’s done in his time in Lexington, but there is also excitement surrounding Brown. Kentucky’s most memorable teams in the last 20 years employed the same offense that Brown is bringing back to Lexington, and that has the fans excited.
Even if it’s a former walk-on running the offensive show, Kentucky fans are hopeful that the offensive attack will improve in 2013.