Yet again, the best Big 12-bound running back is headed for the Forty Acres, as Buford (Ga.) star ball-carrier Derrian Brown put pen to paper on Wednesday and officially signed with the Texas Longhorns.
It’s officially Hook’em!!! pic.twitter.com/xh2hJYRNfQ— Derrian Brown ® (@BrownDerrian) December 19, 2018
A premier talent who tallied 30 total offers, Brown’s recruitment was fairly brief and under the radar for a prospect of his caliber. Despite his offer list beginning back in April 2017 with Louisville being the first to jump into the mix, Brown visited only a select few schools, including 2017 unofficial visits to Virginia Tech and Tennessee and a junior day tour to Alabama. Nevertheless, Brown certainly boasted a bevy of prominent options, as evident by his June 10 top 10 list, which featured LSU, Auburn, Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Florida State, and of course, Texas.
Meanwhile, as Brown’s recruitment remained relatively under the radar, the four-star talent named Texas as his outright leader on Aug. 15, even prior to his first trip to Texas.
Exactly one month later, that trip to the Forty Acres came to fruition, and Brown’s first official visit for Texas’ Sept. 15 win over USC would prove to be his only official visit, and furthermore, only trip to Texas needed to secure his commitment. By the time Brown headed home, he was a Longhorn.
A little more than three months removed from that pledge, Brown is officially a member of Tom Herman’s 2019 class, and as noted, his arrival will mark just the latest example of the top-ranked Big 12-bound running back donning burnt orange, joining talents such as Keaontay Ingram (2018), Toneil Carter (2017), Kyle Porter (2016), Chris Warren III (2015), and Duke Catalon (2014).
Given the product Brown has put on film, it’s safe to say his ranking as the nation’s No. 13 running back is well warranted.
After totaling 844 yards and 94 attempts in 2017 while sharing the load with Anthony Grant and Christian Turner, which now suit up for Florida State and Michigan, respectively, Brown took his game to entirely new heights as the feature back as a senior.
A decisive, one-cut-and-go kind of back with praiseworthy breakaway speed and excellent short-area burst — he registered a 4.28 20-yard shuttle — Brown saw his workload increase to 234 carries as a senior, with which he amassed 1,897 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Currently listed at 5’11, 188 pounds, Brown has a sturdy frame that can afford to add mass and strength and he develops behind what appears to be a one-two punch of Keaontay Ingram and Daniel Young in 2019. That said, Brown runs with a low center of gravity and has proven capable and willing to lower his shoulder pads and simply bulldoze a would-be tackle, and furthermore, he consistently falls forward when going down to gain additional yardage. Between that and his aforementioned one-cut decisiveness, Texas is gaining a non-nonsense back who wastes no time getting where he’s aiming to go and him impressive vision in identifying the proper gaps and creases to explode through allow him to do exactly that.
Where Brown will have his work cut out for him, however, comes with how well he’ll adjust to Power 5 football where he may not always be able to simply outrun or overpower defenders. Though there are a few flashes in his film, it’s unclear how adept Brown will be at elusively breaking a defender down and making them miss in open space.
The good news to that end, however, is Brown won’t necessarily be thrown into the fire and forced to flash fancy footwork in the open field as a true freshman.
Though Texas’ running back room is set to take a hit with sophomore Toneil Carter transferring and Tre Watson graduating, the Longhorns will, as noted, return Ingram and Young; each of which provided flashes throughout their freshman campaigns. In addition to his own personal progression and whether or not he can impress once he arrives on campus, Brown’s debut campaign may largely be dictated by who may or may not be back in burnt orange in 2019. Kyle Porter will be a senior, but he saw only one carry for two yards in 2018 and could aim for an opportunity with more laying time, and the same could be said of Kirk Johnson, who has seen only eight attempts throughout an injury-plagued tenure at Texas.
Should Porter and Johnson each return, Brown may very well be in for a redshirt season while the former two cap their careers as reserves. If not, though, and either one or both head for greener pastures, the Georgia product could be in for a role similar to that of Young in 2018, in which he saw some late-game touches and totaled 42 carries for 153 yards entering the bowl game.
In any case, with Brown now officially on board, Stan Drayton’s running back room now features yet another dynamic talent that he can develop in hopes of bolstering Texas’ ground game in 2019 and beyond.