Four years ago today, West Virginia University offensive lineman Michael Brown wasn’t playing any form of organized football while attending Paramount High School in California. Now in just a few days, he’ll be running onto Mountaineer field to start for a Big 12 conference team.
Although his 6-foot-3, 345-pound frame may indicate he has been playing the sport his entire life, Brown may have one of the wilder stories in all of college football in that he didn’t start his football career until college. Many successful players have taken the junior college route to success in the sport, but very rarely do you see a player play his first career snaps at the collegiate level.
Brown attempted to begin in the year of 2016, but because of a required heart surgery, his dream had to wait longer. Instead, Brown elected to serve on a two year mission trip to the Philippines. Once he returned, and was medically ready, Brown was finally able to jumpstart his dream to play college football, and enrolled in Eastern Arizona Junior College. Beginning to learn the sport, Brown played at the junior college level for two years with his older brother, before getting an opportunity to play at a four year university in West Virginia.
Despite the mere three years of experience Michael has been playing football, that hasn’t seemed to stop head coach Neal Brown from continuously being impressed all offseason by the linemen’s development at the position.
“It’s really kind of an incredible story for someone who didn’t play high school football. From Compton, California, and he ends up in Morgantown, West Virginia, and all of the sudden he’s going to start, and play Big 12 football. Him having the ability to keep improving and showing that he belongs has been impressive for me,” said Neal Brown.
Michael Brown will have an opportunity to play in his redshirt junior season with a generally young and inexperienced Mountaineer offensive line. While Neal Brown has been impressed with his steady improvement over the course of the offseason despite being so new to the sport, he believes Michael has the tools needed to be a quality Big 12 linemen.
“(Michael Brown) has a great skill set. He has the potential. He’s big, he’s strong, he moves laterally well, and he has good balance” said Neal Brown.
Although the Mountaineers return two proven linemen up front in Colton McKivitz and Josh Sills, the unit as a whole is a less experienced offensive line than in years past, and they be tested early in the season. The Mountaineers have one of the deepest running back rooms in recent Mountaineer memory, and a large workload will be put on the offensive line to open up space to allow the running backs to make plays. Playing with a massive chip on his shoulder, it will be interesting to see if Brown continues to prove people wrong this season with strong performances up front.
Cover Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS