Still committed to Miami, Brown retreats before making final choice
Bryce Brown gave a verbal commitment to Miami (Fla.) last February
Brown will not sign a National Letter of Intent next Wednesday
He may take an official visit to Tennessee, Auburn, Miami or Kansas State
Less than a week to go before national Signing Day, Bryce Brown, the nation's top-ranked tailback, was at a birthday party in Elkhorn, Neb., on Wednesday night. Staying in town with his aunt and uncle, the Wichita, Kan., native attended the festivities as a way to kill time during his mid-winter retreat (Brown graduated from East High in December). "I came out here to get away from everything," said Brown, who gave a verbal commitment to Miami late last February, but says he will not sign with the Hurricanes next Wednesday. "No one knows who I am here."
Brown lost his anonymity four years ago. On his first run from scrimmage as a freshman at East (Wichita, Kan.) he broke loose for a touchdown, and the college coaches have been after him ever since. Starring alongside his older brother, Arthur Jr., who just finished his freshman season as a linebacker at Miami, he seemed ready to follow his brother's path last winter. With that commitment, though, came the understanding that he would exhaust all options before signing. And he has, taking in a Thanksgiving weekend game at Clemson, meeting with Jeremy Maclin at Missouri and bonding with offensive coordinator Chip Kelly at Oregon. "Coach Kelly doesn't try to force me to do anything," said Brown, who received 15 calls Wednesday despite having communicated to coaches that he would not be returning any. "We can just talk about stuff outside football. He's the best at that."
Brown says he will not return home until Feb. 7 -- three days after Signing Day. At that time, Brown, who says whether he can enroll at a college this spring will not factor into his decision, intends on visiting two more schools from a pool of Miami, Tennessee, Kansas State and Auburn.
Since Brown arrived in Nebraska on Saturday night, Miami announced the hiring of former Philadelphia Eagles assistant as its new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple. Asked whether he viewed the hiring as a positive or negative, Brown said, "I really don't watch enough NFL games to be familiar with his work so I don't want to comment on that."
While in Nebraska, Brown is staying with his uncle, former Huskers middle guard Lawrence Pete, and his family. Listed as the "strongest Husker" from 1984-88 in the Nebraska media guides, Pete, Brown says, hasn't tried to influence his decision. "No one bugs me about the college choice out here," Brown said. "I can take a walk and think about things."
Last December, Brown, whose family is very religious, fasted for two weeks when Arthur Jr. was finalizing his college choice. Upon hearing that Miami was the destination, the younger brother broke the fast at his girlfriend's house when she made him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. A year later, things have changed for Brown. "I'm going to have to find someone else this year if I fast again," he said, laughing.
Until he signs, the Hurricanes can only hope that they remain Brown's steady.