Kiffin on his dedicated staff and student athletes
Freshman running back Bryce Brown has already passed one test in his transition from high school to college football. He has passed the eye test.
“When you walk by Bryce and (see) his presence, he looks like the real deal,” UT head coach Lane Kiffin said at Tuesday’s media conference. “He’s 218 pounds right now and he looks like a guy who has been in the NFL for a few years.
“Bryce is built up so well. He’s got that superstar walk and presence to him. There’s a lot to that.”
Brown, of Wichita, Kan., was the prize signee in Kiffin’s first UT recruiting. He’s also expected to have an immediate impact on a running game that foundered last season.
As a running back, Brown demonstrated size, speed and elusiveness at the high school level. He was a consensus pick as the No. 1 running back in the country.
Kiffin talked as much about Brown’s intangible assets Tuesday.
“I think, through recruiting, people got the wrong image of him,” Kiffin said. “When you spend time with him, as you guys will, I think you’re gonna love him.
“I think you’re going to see that’s he’s a very special guy. For one, he’s a great student. I think he was a 3.7 GPA, graduated early and is very serious about doing things right.”
Brown’s dedication extends to his diet as well, according to Kiffin.
“He’s a vegetarian,” Kiffin said. “He ate a steak the other day, for the first time ever, at Coach (Eddie) Gran’s house. He’s very serious and very focused about being great.”
Kiffin knows what a great running back can do for an offense. He coached Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush at Southern California.
“Every call is not going to be great,” Kiffin said. “You see it on film all the time. They don’t block the Will linebacker because they’re overloaded to that side, they make the right call up front, and the (running back) is sitting there for a 2-yard loss. The guy then spins out and makes 10 yards, and everybody thinks it was a great play call.”
Even bigger plays occur when the right call meets the right running back.
“When you get a great back, those 10- and 12-yard runs become 60-yard runs,” Kiffin said. “When you block it right, there’s one guy sitting back there, the free safety. One guy is going to get tackled after 10 yards. One guy is going for a 60-yard touchdown.”
“It’s so critical to have a superstar back. And I hope we do.”
Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.