Size no concern for Temple RB Brown

Matt Brown has rushed for 1,746 yards and 13 touchdowns over the last two seasons for the Owls.
Matt Brown has rushed for 1,746 yards and 13 touchdowns over the last two seasons for the Owls. (MITCHELL LEFF / TEMPLE UNIVERSITY)
Posted: August 23, 2012

YEAR AFTER YEAR, some young men around the country are told they are too small to withstand the grueling grind of collegiate or professional football. Temple starting running back Matt Brown would need a step ladder and a 20-pound weight to match most of those guys in bulk.

At 5-5 and 165 pounds, he is anything but the ideal size for a back expected to spearhead a rushing attack that hopes to crack the nation's top 10 in yardage for the second consecutive year. Just don't try telling that to the garrulous and self-assured Brown.

"Everyone telling me that I'm small and I can't do it, it provides motivation," Brown said during Temple's first week of training camp. "What do you mean I can't do it? Watch me do it."

Brown has been "doing it" with the Owls for three seasons now. Over the last two, he has piled up 1,746 yards and 13 touchdowns as the speedy lightning to Bernard Pierce's thunder. With Pierce now in the NFL, Brown is the undisputed face of Temple football, a role with which he is perfectly comfortable.

Someone his size doesn't become a two-time All-MAC selection because of his raw talent. Sure, Brown possesses break-away speed and great vision, but his defining attributes are his fearlessness and his toughness. While Pierce battled injuries throughout his career at Temple, Brown, 7 inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter, never missed a game.

"I think it's about your mindset and about your heart," Brown said regarding his durability. "If it isn't in your heart - if you weren't brought up like that, not cut from that certain cloth - then maybe it just isn't in you to begin with. It is a part of the game. I like to play through pain - it makes me feel more like a man."

Temple football is among the fastest growing programs in the country. The Owls practice at a shiny new outdoor complex, have an indoor facility on the way and are a newly minted member of the Big East. Under Steve Addazio, and Al Golden before him, Temple has become a winner and for that success to translate to a BCS schedule, the running game must continue to be its lifeblood.

"We're not that team that is going to be a 50-50 blend with run-pass. We're just not," Addazio said. He knows that he will need a stable of backs, in addition to Brown, to execute the offensive game plan that best fits the Owls' personnel. After landing Boston College transfer Montel Harris in July, the second-year coach is confident Temple has the right pieces in place.

"Matt and Montel have had a great camp," Addazio said. "I like the way they're practicing, I like the way they're playing. I think we're dynamic, I think we're explosive. The fact that we have some depth is critical. Guys are going to get banged up, knocked out, tired - Matt is a big special teams guy."

Earlier this month, Brown was one of 49 players named to the watch list for the 2012 Paul Hornung Award, given annually to the most versatile player in college football. He returned punts and kicks in 2011 for the Owls, totaling 885 all-purpose yards and a touchdown on special teams. He has been named by many publications as a preseason All-Big East selection at running back, punt returner and kick returner.

Despite the addition of Harris, who is college football's active career rushing leader, Brown and his 165-pound frame seem destined for a bigger workload. As ambitious as they come, he welcomes all the exposure he can get, and on whatever side of the ball that Addazio will let him on the field.

"I love special teams," he said. "That is my life, because at the next level I know they will want me to be on some type of special teams. So I am trying to take full advantage of that now.

"I want my plate full. The more they give me, the better. I will definitely be in coach's ear about that."

But in the short-term, Brown's eyes are locked on what lies ahead. While the Big East is probably the weakest of the six BCS conferences, it still represents a considerable step up from the MAC competition that the Owls are used to. Brown, ready for the challenge, says he wears a T-shirt every night that has the schedule on the back of it.

"I can't wait. I look at that schedule every night. This is top-notch competition," he said, anticipation saturating his voice. "I'm hungry, man, I'm starving right now."

The Owls are 26-12 since 2009 and in last year's New Mexico Bowl, they captured the program's first postseason win since 1979. Addazio and Golden have undoubtedly built the program into what it is - a success - but it's Brown, all 65 inches of him, who is its most recognizable mainstay. And in 2012, the Owls will go only as far as he will take them.

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