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Morning Coffee Hits the Ground Running

Horns_bullet_mediumBreaking into the film room: Malcolm Brown. Two interesting facts about the Malcolm Brown video on Rivals. One, even though the film is broken into two sections, both videos show the same play. Redundant. Second, the free video on YouTube begins with two incredible plays that Rivals doesn't have at all. Do they put any effort into acquiring film for their paying members? It appears not. End rant.

Brown is often noted for his physical style of running, actually quite similar to the punishment Vondrell McGee used to mete out to defenders while at Longview that earned him the nickname of "Bulldozer." Perhaps Brown is "Bulldozer Redux" then, or "Bulldozer Deuce." I think I like the second one better. In any case, the *free* YouTube video(see below) provides ample demonstration of Brown's physicality with the football, while Rivals shows little of it (guess I wasn't totally done with my Rivals rant). Listed at an even six feet, Brown is probably closer to 5-10 or 5-11 and honestly appeared shorter than me (I'm 5-11) when I walked by him at the spring game. How tall he really is doesn't matter that much, especially for a running back -- the important part is that he has a low center of gravity and runs with excellent pad level, both attributes that make him difficult to tackle.

In fact, arm tackles simply don't seem to do the trick with Brown, who slips right through them easily. It's truly hard to overemphasize his uncanny ability to break tackles. As mentioned before, it's his center of gravity and pad level that help him break all those tackles, but his balance and the strength of his legs are equally impressive -- there's little doubt from his film that he can already put up some impressive weight on the squat. He fights hard to extra yardage and finishes his runs extremely well -- Brown possesses more than a little of the Marion Barber desire to turn the insides of defenders into mush.

The main rap on Brown is that he doesn't have the explosive breakaway speed of Lache Seastrunk or Aaron Green. Of course, when making those comparisons it's easy to forget that few players possess the elite speed of the two aforementioned athletes. When considered as his own player, Brown has plenty of speed and explosiveness, certainly enough to run in the 4.5 range, though 40 times are hard to come by for Brown. He certainly doesn't get caught by anyone from behind in any of his video, which is somewhat to be expected for a player as highly-regarded as Brown, but still speaks to his speed being far from a weakness. 

Perhaps most impressive is that he's not the type of speedster willing to give up momentum in an effort to juke defenders. A true between-the-tackles runner, Brown doesn't want to break everything outside, the major criticism of Lache Seastrunk -- he makes only the necessary cuts at speed and has very good feet, taking the yardage available, then gaining a few more by refusing to go down easily on first contact. When he needs a little extra burst, it's available and if he continues to work hard on his speed and explosiveness over his next two years of high school, there might be some improvement left to make.

(Video after the jump...)

RB Malcolm Brown #28 Steele HS SOPH (Updated) (via CountdownCityPreps)

Horns_bullet_mediumSolving the Brown vs. Green debate. Or not, actually. I weighed in on this debate rather briefly here, but as one of the most interesting storylines in the 2011 class, it deserves further consideration. Which running back is better? Which running back fits the system better? Would both of them be willing to come to Texas and compete for carries? All compelling questions that won't be answered, in all likelihood, for another year or more.

If Malcolm Brown is similar to Vondrell McGee, then Aaron Green is a rich man's Fozzy Whittaker. Simplistic comparisons, no doubt, but ones that adequately serve the purpose here. Until both of them play on the collegiate level, it will probably be impossible to determine which one is better. In the end, it probably comes down to personal preference and how they fit into the Texas scheme.

McGee and Brown are both downhill runners known for their physicality and while Brown doesn't operate almost exclusively out of the I-formation in high school as did McGee, the concerns about McGee's downhill running fitting into the horizontal, zone-blocking scheme Texas currently employs probably apply to Brown as well. In watching his film, Brown doesn't look like a perfect fit for the Texas scheme, but he also doesn't look like he would have as much trouble adjusting as McGee

Green, however, much like Whittaker, seems like a perfect fit for the Texas scheme with his ability to move horizontally, plant his foot, and explode into the hole. It's almost as if some running backs simply visualize the field better vertically than horizontally, but Green appears to be able to anticipate holes opening while he moves laterally. Especially with larger running backs in the three classes ahead of him, Green feels a major need for the program and fits the scheme extremely well. If Seastrunk ends up somewhere else, as appears increasingly likely, then Green would be the next target to fill the role of home-run threat out of the backfield.

If Green fits the scheme better, should the Longhorns just not offer Malcolm Brown? What if Brown doesn't get an offer and Green goes somewhere else, like USC? What if both get offers and Brown commits first, then Green decides to go elsewhere? There are numerous variables that enter into this discussion that the coaching staff must weigh before offers would go out to Green and/or Brown at the first Junior Day next February. Is there a correct answer? It certainly doesn't seem like it and I can't profess to be able to untangle the logical mess it entails. What I can say, however, is that missing on both of these players, despite the incredible depth of the running back class, would probably classify as a major failure by the coaching staff. Other than that, all I can say is to stay tuned.

Horns_bullet_mediumBig-back Bergeron enters the equation. If Texas does decide to try to take both Brown and Green, it would be because the coaching staff feels that their skill sets complement each other. However, if the staff decides to take only Green, a big back could also figure into the equation and no one fits that bill better than Mesquite's Joe Bergeron. Of course, the staff could even decide to take a third running back in the class if Seastrunk commits elsewhere and both Brown and Green, or any other combination of two running backs from the class, commit to Texas.

Bergeron makes sense if pretty much any of those scenarios because of his versatility. At six feet and 230 pounds (down from a recent 250 ($)), the Mesquite star could play fullback, some h-back, or even serve in a Cody Johnson role as a short-yardage or fourth-quarter tailback. In addition, Bergeron even caught 12 passes ($) as a sophomore, providing exceptional scheme versatility -- in many ways, Bergeron is like the fullback version of Barrett Matthews. Since pure fullbacks are extremely difficult to come by in this era of spread offenses, the lack of other options makes Bergeron even more valuable. Add in the apparent desire of Mack Brown to use a fullback more often in the offense and a Bergeron offer seems like a strong possibility.

Better conditioning factors into the equation as well. Both Major Applewhite and Bobby Kennedy told Bergeron that he looked much faster at his lighter weight and Bergeron confirms that he has more breakaway speed (and a reported 40 time down in the 4.5s) and can move better laterally. Already an aggressive blocker, Bergeron also has the power and quick feet to become a legitimate threat with the ball in his hands. 

Horns_bullet_mediumSelders could fill role as scat-back. Cy Creek's Jermichael Selders may not ever have the size to be an every-down back on the college level. At 5-11, 178-pounds, he's extremely lanky, but has 4.4 to 4.5 speed ($). In fact, enough speed to earn an invitation to the Junior Olympics. Besides pure speed, Selders is much like Aaron Green in his ability to make defenders miss with his ability to jump cut, along with a developed spin move. He is a tough runner for his size, but doesn't always run with good pad level. As a sophomore, he caught 19 passes, proving his ability to be a threat as a receiver with his soft hands and body control. Selders has only camped at Texas this summer.