Temple's more mature Brown excited for Big East

Posted: March 29, 2012

AFTER THREE seasons as the No. 2 behind Temple star running back Bernard Pierce, senior Matt Brown stands to be the feature back this fall, just as the team enters the Big East Conference. It's a distinction that leaves the Baltimore native at a loss for words, but not at a loss for punctuation.

"Exclamation points, like 20 of them. I'm just excited. I can't believe it. It's a dream come true and we're in the Big East," Brown said. "It's an adrenaline rush - every night and every morning, I get up thinking about it."

While Pierce, who declared for the NFL draft after his junior season, was breaking school records as the Owls' feature back, Brown also has been productive. Last season, he averaged 5.9 yards per carry and amassed a total of 916 rushing yards, with six touchdowns. He was a third-team All Mid-American Conference selection.

Brown, a 5-5, 170-pounder, also has been one of the Owls' more durable running backs.

"He's tough; some guys can handle bumps and bruises and some guys don't, but he does. He's rugged," second-year coach Steve Addazio said. "He's one of the more competitive guys that I've been around. I think his teammates respond to him. he's proven his ability and his competitiveness on the field."

Brown joined the team as a walk-on in January 2009 after barely being recruited out of Peddie School in Hightstown, N.J., and spending a year at Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y. He earned a scholarship after emerging as a change of pace from Pierce and starting briefly during the 2010 season. He experienced a setback when he was suspended for the remainder of spring practice in 2011, Addazio's first year as coach, after getting into a verbal altercation with a teammate and coach. During his suspension, he had to work solely on conditioning away from the team.

"[Being suspended] was the worst, because I didn't know if I was coming back or not, but it was a time period that I learned from and made me better," Brown said. "It showed me what not to do, but I'm glad it's over, and my mind is focused on what's ahead of me."

"I appreciate this time, because it allows me to cram in more plays and more knowledge and critique myself," he added.

With his renewed appreciation for practicing with his teammates, Brown is mentally preparing for the upcoming season in such areas as becoming a leader.

"It feels great. I'm just taking it all in," Brown said. "I just try to hit every angle that I didn't know about when the big guy was here.

"I'm learning and trying to get all the mental stuff down. And I have a lot of game experience, it's just the little things."

Said Addazio: "He's growing up and becoming a leader, and I enjoy having him out here. You can see it in his eyes. He's one of those guys that's taking a step in his maturity."

Contact Brian Dzenis at dzenisb@phillynews.com.

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