Every day here at Your Best 11, we are counting down to the start of the regular season with our Top 150 players for the 2012 season.
No. 113: Malcolm Brown, No. 28, Texas, Running Back
Malcolm Brown entered Texas as one of the nation's most highly touted running back recruits, and the freshman did not disappoint. Brown posted some 742 yards in his first year and grew into the legitimate, downhill running back that Texas has been looking to add to its attack.
Going into year two with offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin the Longhorns are expecting a big year out of Brown, and they will need it as the quarterback question still swirls in Austin.
Brown comes as advertised, a tough, physical runner who is capable of carrying the ball between the tackles on a play-in, play-out basis. He is a physical runner who breaks through the first level of the defense and immediately starts looking for who is going to get the punishment. He does not fear contact; in fact he seems to relish it at times, steam rolling over safeties and giving corners a shoulder nudge before going down.
The kid has solid balance, good body control and, while he is geared to run between the tackles and get tough yards, he possesses the speed required to get loose on the edge when given the opportunity.
Turf toe is the easy answer here. The freshman missed three games as the injury severely hindered his ability to produce at the end of the year in the way he did to start the season. Getting the toe healthy and keeping it healthy will be the main focus of Brown and the Longhorns trainers.
On the field, the rising sophomore has to show improvement in a couple areas to really build on the 2011 success. Continuing to grow his field vision and ability to react to what is in front of him is a small change that can turn 5-yard gains into 8-yard gains; something that adds up over the course of the game.
The big focus this season should be in his role in the passing game. Being able to be a reliable pass blocker is a start, but being active in the passing game should be the goal. Allowing Harsin to keep him in the game and still run screens and swing passes to the starting running back will make Brown more valuable to the Longhorns offense.
Brown should push for the 1,000-yard mark this season. He is a capable back, and with the presence of Joe Bergeron and newcomer Johnathan Gray, Brown should be fresh when it comes time to pick up the big yards.
Having a stable of running backs is a good thing when it comes to keeping players healthy and allowing the physical bruiser, Brown, to truly wear on teams as the game progresses. One thing to watch for in 2012 will be how his role expands in the passing game.
Fozzy Whittaker is gone and DJ Monroe is going to play a more expansive role in the wide receiver sets for the Longhorns. That means Brown and his backfield mates must be able to keep defenses honest by proving to be pass threats. Expect Brown to catch more footballs this season as he grows into a more complete player.