August 11, 2009

Countdown to kickoff: No. 17 Curtis Brown

Name: Curtis Brown

Position: Cornerback

Classification: Junior

Prep credentials: The former Gilmer star was a five-star prospect (6.1) and was ranked as the nation's No.2 cornerback/No.21 overall player by Rivals. Brown was ranked as the state's No.3 overall prospect by Lone Star Recruiting and Rivals ranked him as the state's No.4 player.

Click here to see Brown's high school film

2008 stats: Brown played in all 13 games in 2009, including starts in four of the last six games, while recording 27 tackles, nine pass break-ups and two pressures. His nine special teams tackles also tied for the team lead.

2008 Honors: None

Career stats: Brown has appeared in 26 games (four starts) and has recorded 41 tackles, 10 pass break ups, two quarterback pressures and a fumble recovery.

Best game in 2008: There are a couple of games that I could have listed, but I'm going to go with his performance against Missouri (three tackles) when he held all-Big 12 standout Jeremy Maklin to 66 yards on 8 catches. The coaches were so impressed with his performance and ability to neutralize one of the top game-breakers in college football that they started Brown the next week against Oklahoma State.

Scouting Report: There's a lot to like about the 6-0, 180-pound Brown, who possesses some of the top elite athleticism that Duane Akina has ever coached at the cornerback position. As a freshman Brown was as raw as a three-day old rash and got by strictly on his athleticism, but he started to turn the corner as a player during his sophomore season, only to find himself limited by an early-season hamstring injury. With those issues behind him, Brown is looking to take the next step in his development.

With his speed and quickness, Brown is so wildly athletic that he can make a mistake in technique and still recover in time to make a play in coverage. Although he guessed entirely too much in the early part of his career, Brown has emerged as one of the top man-coverage corners on the team and he gets a lot of credit for keeping both Maclin and Dez Bryant under 100 yards last season and out of the end zone. He's the only guy in the Big 12 that make that claim. There were times this summer when he looked like the team's top overall cornerback in seven-on-seven workouts.

As good as he is in coverage, Brown is still battling with being able to finish plays. Too often during his career thus far, Brown has been in a position to make plays, but he hasn't been able to close the deal. For all of the ball skills he showed as a five-star recruit in high school, Brown still struggles with locating the ball in the air and being able to make plays on it. A willing tackler, Brown's wiry frame makes it tougher for to finish tackles against stronger athletes.

He's is also a terrific special teams player, especially on the coverage units, but it's his upside as a return man that a lot of Texas fans are dying to see because his exploits in that department at Gilmer are the stuff of popular legend. If Brown can ever get his hands on a football and hold onto it, his freaky athletic ability could make him one of the most dangerous scoring threats on the team with the ball in his hands.

Brown is very close to realizing his potential. His biggest issue early on centered on him trying to find a comfort zone at the position, finishing plays and staying healthy. After spending most of his high school career on the offensive side of the ball, it took a while for Brown to make a smooth transition, but he's at that comfortable place now. Frankly, his in ability to finish plays is the only thing holding him back as a player because everything else has started to come together.

The big hope… Brown starts to finish as a player, which means he emerges as a big-play provider and one of the real top-shelf cornerbacks in the Big 12.

The big worry… Where does he get the playing time? Brown would likely be the best corner or at least a starting cornerback on every other Big 12 team, but the Longhorns are loaded with emerging NFL-type talent at cornerback and it's possible that Brown could be the odd man out in the team's starting nickel package, as the group currently features only two corners and three safeties.

Did you know? Brown's nickname is "Turkey".

NFL Scouting report:" My concern with him is that I can't tell how good of a football player he really is. I know he's a hell of an athlete and I'm sure he can he can play special teams at the next level. But, I need to see more from him to really know what he's about."

The bottom line: Make no mistake about it, Brown appears to have arrived as a cornerback and if he continues to build on his strong play from the spring and summer, he'll almost certainly emerge as the team's No.3 cornerback behind Chykie Brown and Aaron Williams. Therefore, he's going to play a lot this season, but the extent of his playing time has yet to be determined. The former East Texas standout proved that he can play with the big boys last season, but that next step towards stardom can be the toughest to take and in order to be a front-line player at cornerback, that's the bar you're going to have to reach this season.

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