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Algie Brown: Polished steel

(Photo by BYU Photo)

Reprinted from the football Gameday program guide, November 26, 2016. 

If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.

Those are the words Jasmine wrote to her future husband Algie while he served as a missionary in Brazil. Little did she know how powerful those words would prove to be.

Algie Brown tallied 1,267 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns during his first three seasons as a Cougar. The senior running back was named to the Doak Walker Award watch list and Phil Steele Postseason All-Independent First Team.

If anyone can rise to the challenge, it’s Algie.

“Algie is really calm and he doesn’t get shaken up,” teammate Ului Lapuaho said. “He doesn’t waiver on the field. He’s a solid rock.”

‘Just do right’

The six-foot-1 250-pound ‘solid rock’ has been playing football since he was eight years old.

“My dad was my biggest coach,” Algie said as he remembered his dad taking him and his brothers to the park to do drills after school every day.

Algie’s older brothers, Daryl and Henna Brown, went on to be running backs at Southern Utah University. Algie’s father often told him football was going to be his ticket to college. That idea didn’t sink in until he was in high school.

“I just played for the first couple years because my dad told me to. Then I started to like it more, and as the years went on, it was my choice and I wanted to do it,” Algie said.

It was then that Algie fell in love with the game of football – not just for the competition but for how the sport influenced his character.

Algie played for Roger Dupaix, Utah’s winningest and most decorated high school football coach, at Skyline High School in Salt Lake City. He also ran track all four years to build his speed and learn proper running mechanics.

“In high school, I learned more life lessons that football,” Algie said. “Coach Dupaix had this rule that was the ‘do right’ rule. Basically whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, just remember do right. He would always say, ‘you know what’s right, you know what’s wrong, just do right.’”

It was this idea of ‘doing right’ in all aspects of his life that propelled Algie to the spotlight.

‘Push a little more’

“There are a lot of times, like today for example, I wanted to quit,” Algie said after running stadiums with his team during summer workouts. “I puked twice and I definitely wanted to stop. But it was that same principle, pushing yourself just a little more. Your mind is a lot stronger than your body.”

Rated the No. 4 prospect in Utah by Rivals.com, Algie was recruited by several schools including Oregon, Michigan, Stanford and Utah State. But for Algie, the biggest determining factor in college football was going on a mission.

“Serving a mission was something I had always wanted to do since I was young. Once BYU popped up, I was like ‘I’m going.’”

Algie redshirted his freshman year in 2010 and then served for two years in the Brazil São Paulo South Mission.

“I learned a lot about myself,” he said. “The biggest thing was being more outgoing - not just learning how to speak a language but talking to people. I learned how to put myself outside my comfort zone to places I normally wouldn’t feel comfortable.”

Returning to school and football after the mission also presented its challenges. Former BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall reminded Algie of a story he has never forgotten.

“One of the last times I met with Bronco before I graduated high school, he shared the story of the stripling warriors and how they do everything with exactness. He talked about how we need to be exact with the things that we do,” Algie recalled.

It was this same scripture story that Bronco shared with Algie upon returning home from Brazil.

“I was super nervous coming home from my mission, wondering how I was going to play and what I was going to do, but it was something I needed to hear,” Algie said.

The same ‘do right’ player in high school could push himself to be ‘exact’ on the field again. He could conquer any challenge and finish strong.

‘Give 100 percent in everything’

Lapuaho remembers BYU’s game against East Carolina University last season when Algie scored four touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown.

“On one of the drives there was a guy in his face and he broke that tackle. He just waltzed into the end zone,” Lapuaho said.

“At the end of it, Algie jumped up and blew a kiss. It was to his wife, but I was standing in the middle so I thought it was for me too,” he added with a smile.

Algie credits his band of brothers as the most rewarding part of BYU football. His friends have made his college transition and experience at BYU the best it could be.

“Freshman year I made a group of friends that are still my really good friends today,” Algie said. “Some are playing in the NFL and some have moved; we’re everywhere. But we still keep in contact.”

Among his tight group of friends is senior linebacker Sae Tautu.

“Algie is one of my best friends,” said Tautu. “He is a big, mean looking guy and strong and crazy on the football field, but he’s a really nice person. He’s a very loyal friend.”

With a demanding schedule, the biggest challenge for Algie has been finding balance.

“Football, school, social life, family… It all gets a little jumbled,” Algie said. “It’s hard to prioritize and set what you should do first. It’s easy to fall and get off track.”

The secret, he says, is his wife, who keeps him organized.

“Algie loves to be involved with everything and he loves to give himself 100 percent in everything he does,” said Algie’s wife, Jasmine. “I think a lot of the time it can become very exhausting for him.”

Algie and Jasmine first met in high school through their brothers.

“Back in 2004, our brothers played football together down at Southern Utah University and they ended up being really, really close friends,” Jasmine said. “When Algie was on his mission, my brother found his email address and told me to start emailing him.”

There was one email that stood out more than the others.

“My wife wrote me right before I came home and I was telling her how challenging it was to not think about home and finish strong and she said, if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. And I said, ‘I’m sticking with it,’” Algie said.

Jasmine and Algie dated after his mission and were later married in July 2014. She has been his  constant support and knows a side of Algie most fans don’t see.

“Algie off the field is very tender and loving. But the second he puts his helmet on, he becomes whatever he needs to be on that field,” Jasmine said. “He is always willing to be what the team needs him to be.”

Jasmine and Algie’s first daughter Rose was born July 29, 2016. With his wife and now a baby girl in the stands cheering him on, this football season just might prove to be more meaningful than all the rest.

“I feel awesome, it’s the best thing ever,” Algie said on being a father. “I just want her to be able to see me as an example, to follow me and her mother. I just want the best in everything for her.”

‘Finish strong’

Algie’s size and speed has made him both a valuable and versatile component to the Cougar offense.

“Algie can be everywhere,” said running backs coach Reno Mahe. “He can play tight end. He can go out and play wide receiver. At his size, he can play tailback or he can play fullback. It’s fun to know that people have a hard time gauging what Algie can do. He has great hands and he’s so huge. He is just a freak of nature.”

This season, the ‘freak of nature’ has goals that are not about him.  

“I’m going to be doing a lot of blocking for Jamaal Williams so I’ve kind of taken responsibility over his rushing record,” Algie said. “I also just want to be a leader and example to the younger guys.”

Though the new coaching staff has brought changes to the program, Algie feels confident in the love and trust the coaches have shown the team.

“Feeling the love all of your coaches have for you helps you play for something more than just winning a game,” Algie said. “I’m going to play because I love my coaches. I’m going to play because I love my teammates.”

You would never know Algie used to be a kid who only played football because his dad told him too. Overcoming challenges and finding balance on and off the field has changed him for the better.

“I definitely feel like I’ve changed from my freshman year until now. I’m more mature. I don’t sweat the small stuff,” Algie said.

As a mature and polished player, Algie has his sights on the pros.

“The NFL has been my goal since I can remember. That’s something that’s always been in the forefront of my mind,” Algie said.

To get there, Algie knows it will require discipline in the little things.

“It’s what Coach Mendenhall taught: exactness. Working out, dieting, getting to bed and waking up on time. Things like that.”

Algie is up for the challenge.

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