Curtis Brown (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
"Yesterday's history and tomorrow's a mystery, but today is a gift--that is why we call it the present."
This is a phrase that 6-foot-0, 205 pound BYU running back Curtis Brown holds close to his heart and a phrase that can describe Brown's experiences before BYU.
"The first time that I put on the pads was the summer after my fourth grade year," Brown said. "I had a friend just down the street who told me that I should go and play football with him, and I saw some pictures in his house of him and his team and thought it would be cool. So I talked my Dad into letting me play, and we went down to Payless and got some cleats. The only problem was that they were baseball cleats."
Brown admits his first year playing football was a little tough.
"I got my cleats figured out and then had to learn about the game," Brown said.
"The coaches put me at running back that year, and I've been one ever since."
Football caught on with Brown, and as he grew older he began to improve year by year.
"I always tried to be the best," Brown said. "I tried to be the best eighth grader and then the best ninth grader and then the best varsity football player and just took it from there."
That kind of attitude helped Brown put up some pretty impressive numbers his senior year in leading Paraclete High School to an undefeated 12-0 record. Brown amassed over 7,000 career rushing yards, scored 27 touchdowns as a senior and garnered several awards including being named to the All-Los Angeles Times Offensive Team, being named the Los Angeles Daily News Small Schools Player of the Year and receiving a nomination for California's Mr. Football by Student Sports Magazine.
Coming to BYU
A number of colleges recruited Brown including UCLA, Washington State, Clemson and BYU.
"BYU just felt right," Brown said. "I really liked the people here and thought that this would be a really good opportunity for me."
Coming to BYU, Brown did not know too much about BYU or what the University was like.
"All I really knew was that they had a good football team and at the time ran a single-back formation," Brown said.
Since coming to BYU, Brown has not only excelled on the field but has also made some big changes off the field. Brown was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after a year and a half of being at BYU. He also was just married to his sweetheart Kim (who was on the BYU softball and volleyball teams) in the Oakland LDS Temple on August 12.
"When I first came to BYU I wasn't as happy as I could have been," Brown said. "I wasn't having the type of experience that I wanted, and then God came into my life. I know a lot of people will think that I just joined the Church because I am in Happy Valley and it is the cool thing to do, but I joined because it made me happy and made me appreciate that everything I have is God's."
Brown is no pushover and wants to make sure that people know that he is firm in what he believes in.
"My close friends and family know that I am no pushover and know that I am not easily convinced," Brown said. "When they heard that I was joining the Church they supported my decision and most importantly supported the man I was becoming."
Brown credits his Mom, Dad and God for helping him be where he is at today.
"My parents both have had such a positive impact in my life and have helped me so much," Brown said. "Then of course, without my Father in Heaven I would have none of this."
Brown also credits his older sister and little brother for being so supportive and always being there for him when he needs them.
When Brown arrived at BYU, he chose the number six, putting him in elite company with Robbie Bosco, Luke Staley and James Dye as other notable Cougars to wear the number.
"A huge part of the reason I wear the number six is for my friend Brett," Brown said. "He passed away my junior year in high school and that was his number so that is one big reason I wear the six. It is also nice to be associated with such impressive company as Bosco, Dye and Staley."
Making an impact
Brown's freshman year he was named team's top offensive rookie and was the Cougars' second-leading rusher as a true freshman. He saw action in all 12 games during the season and earned a start against Utah State. Brown took full advantage of his first career start racking up 217 yards on 33 carries and scoring three touchdowns to help the Cougars earn a 35-34 come from behind victory. His performance was impressive enough that he earned Mountain West Conference Offensive Player-of-the-Week honors.
After having a pretty successful freshman year in 2002, Brown was redshirted for the 2003 season, and it left him feeling a little unsure of the situation he was in.
"A lot of people don't know that I was thinking about transferring after my freshman year," Brown said. "I didn't know if the situation was right for me at the time."
Brown ultimately decided to stay and feels that it has all turned out for the best.
"Everything we go through is ultimately for our benefit," Brown said. "I am grateful for everything that I have gone through in my life because I feel like it has made me a better person."
In 2004 Brown earned All-MWC Second-Team honors as a sophomore. He started six games at running back and finished the season with a team-leading 789 yards rushing. He was credited with a team-leading six rushing touchdowns on the season. Brown also reached the career 1,000-yard mark during the season (vs. New
Mexico), joining only four other BYU players who cracked the 1,000-yard mark during their sophomore seasons and becoming only the third BYU running back to record four straight 100-yard games in a single season.
As a junior in 2005 Brown earned first-team All-Conference honors. He totaled 1,123 yards rushing on the season, marking the first 1,000-yard season for a BYU running back since Luke Staley in 2001. He was named team offensive back of the year and became only the seventh BYU running back to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in a single season. He has produced a school record 11 career 100-yard games, including six in 2005. He was twice named the MWC Offensive Player of the Week, including a 219-yard, four-touchdown performance against Air Force and a 153-yard, two-touchdown outing against Wyoming.
Brown hopes to continue the success he has had this coming year.
Goals, marriage and football
"My main goal is to win and give it my all," Brown said. "As a team our main goal is to win games. We felt like last year we could have done a little bit better, and we lost some close games. Hopefully this year we can win those close games."
Brown has been named a preseason All-MWC selection by The Sporting News, Blue Ribbon, Athlon and Phil Steele.
"I don't play for the awards," Brown said. "I play because it is fun; if football ever stopped being fun then I would stop playing it."
Brown is excited about the coming year and couldn't be more happy.
"The team is a lot of fun," Brown said. "We have a quarterback in John Beck who is just awesome and is really in it for the team. Our coaches are great and do a great job of preparing us for our opponents."
Brown would love to get the chance to play professional football but admits the odds are small.
"It would be a great opportunity if it presented itself," Brown said. "But playing in the NFL has never been my goal because I don't feel like it is a very realistic goal. Some guys make it and some guys don't. If the opportunity were to present itself then I would jump at it, but I am happy where I am at right now."
When Brown isn't playing football he enjoys relaxing and watching television and movies. He also enjoys listening to music and spending time with Kim and his family.
"I have a lot of people who come up to me and ask me why I am always smiling and happy," Brown said. "I guess it is because I enjoy the little things in life. Ever since I joined the Church it has helped me enjoy the little things even more, and it has made me even happier. I love to smile and make others around me happy."
Brown is majoring in communications studies and looking at going into pharmaceutical sales. His wife is majoring in health with the desire to teach health and coach volleyball at the high school level.
If Brown's present is anything like his past then Cougar fans have a lot to look forward to. But no matter where Brown's future takes him you can always count on him being happy.
THE RUSH FOR THE RECORD
Curtis Brown, the Cougars' senior running back, needs 759 yards this season to become the school's all-time top rusher. Former Cougar running back Jamal Willis, who finished his career with 2,970 yards in 1994, is the current all-time top rusher for the Cougars.
While Brown admits that he knows the record is within reach, he emphasizes that a league title is all that matters to him this season.
"It (the rushing record) doesn't mean a lick if we don't win a conference championship." Brown said.
Brown currently stands in second place on BYU's all-time rushing list with 2,932 yards. He needs just 39 yard in the Cougars final two games to break the record.
Last year, Brown enjoyed the fifth-best rushing season in school history with 1,123 yards. So far this year Brown has gained 721 yards on the ground. He also has 436 yards receiving.
"The offense kind of revolves around the running backs," Brown said. "We have a lot of guys stepping up and our running game will open up our passing game more. We have a lot of weapons."
While Brown is poised to help lead the Cougars to a title, along the way, he may make a little history as well.
"I'm going to enjoy what's left of my career here," Brown said. "I'm looking forward to doing a lot of great things this year."
BYU All-Time Rushing List
1.Jamal Willis 2,970 yards (1991-1994)
2.Curtis Brown 2,932 yards (2002-present)
3.Lakei Heimuli 2,710 yards (1984-1986)
4.Jeff Blanc 2,663 yards (1973-1975)
5.Luke Staley 2,493 yards (1999-2001)
6.Pete Van Valkenburg 2,492 yards (1970-1972)
7.John Ogden 2,363 yards (1964-1966)
Season Carries Yards TD Catches
2002 72 299 4 15
2003 Redshirt - - -
2004 158 789 6 27
2005 210 1,123 14 53
2006 159 721 6 46
Totals 599 2,932 30 141