Forgive Donald Brown, the prolific Tailback from Connecticut, for reneging on a statement he made three weeks before season’s end, when he said he would be back for his senior season. After all, he is only one of 14 college runners who have eclipsed the 2,000 yard barrier, doing it in grand fashion with a 261 yard performance in the International Bowl against Buffalo. When the season was said and done, Brown’s 2,083 yards on 367 carries (over 13 games) led the nation, prompting the junior to announce he will be passing up his last year of college eligibility and making himself available for the 2009 NFL Draft.
For those who might be stunned by the news or Brown’s impressive season, it is worth noting that there were plenty of games during his first two seasons at Connecticut that pointed to what was to come. Brown closed out his Freshman season in splendid fashion, gaining 673 yards rushing over the last five games of the season (he would rush for 896 yards on 161 carries overall); putting together back to back games of 199 and 205 yards against Rutgers and Pittsburgh respectively. In the game against Pitt, a 46-45 double overtime affair, Brown showed his durability by carrying the ball 43 times and scoring four times in the process, including the game winning touchdown in overtime. By season’s end, the upstart Freshman had earned All-Conference honors. Splitting time with Andre Dixon his Sophomore season, Brown still compiled 821 yards on 170 carries (with 8 touchdowns).
This season though, Brown took his game to an even higher level, opening the season with an 8 game string in which he rushed for 100 or more yards, picking up to back 200 yards games against Temple (214) and Virginia (206) during the second and third games of the season.
With little left to prove by season’s end, Brown decided to throw his hat in the ring for a shot at NFL glory. Projected to go in the first day of the Draft, the 5-10, 205 lbs Brown has an array of skills that would be attractive to NFL teams. A finesse runner, Brown has good vision for the position, and runs with great balance. He has shown the ability to break tackles, and has good acceleration if not overall great speed. If he is able to post a great time in the 40 during the 2008 NFL Combine, look for Brown’s stock to climb higher. In the end, he could be a steal come Draft time, and might excel at the professional level much like last year’s college workhorse, Kevin Smith of UCF, who had an excellent rookie season with the Lions this year.