You are a safety, and coming right at you may be the loneliest moment of your collegiate career. Tim Brown has tripped the light fantastic, danced his way through the masses of humanity, found another free second to kick in the turbo and is now bearing down on you, one-on-one, a shining vision of speed, grace and fluidity. In Brown's eyes you can see him thinking, "How bad can I make this guy look in front of his family and friends?"
Pretty bad. An LSU safety stood two yards in front of Brown last year and wound up with a handful of nothing. In the kickoff return against USC, Trojan cornerback Louis Brock Jr., a second-round NFL draft choice, had him eyeball-to-eyeball at the 40 and came up with three fingers on Brown's calf. The move Brown laid on Brock was so mysterious that it is virtually undetectable, even on film. Nonetheless, here is what scientists believe Brown did:
Facing Brock, Brown began with a stutter step as if to go right, then planted his right foot to go left. Brock didn't buy the first fake but bought this one and lunged that way. Only Brown wasn't going left at all. Dipping low and double-clutching from fourth gear to second, Brown planted his left foot, watched Brock lurch in front of him and then blew by him on the right as if Brock were a commuter waiting for the next train. "The ultimate juice," said Miller, which means, we think, the ultimate face job.
Brown offers this helpful hint to prospective tacklers: "If I had to try and tackle me, I'd let me commit myself first. I'd let me go where I want to go and then tackle. Most guys commit before I ever even make a move."
Of course, that's just the players he sees. Brown has learned to avoid players he senses. "It really has to do with peripheral vision," he once said. "If you can't see that guy coming at you from the side, you're going to get nailed. A lot of times I'll be running and see someone coming at me from either side, and I'll just turn and go right at him, and he'll freeze."
Which, of course, is why he's sometimes called Iced T
Right about now, if you look at films, you can see on the sideline a skinny, bespectacled man about four feet off the ground. He is Lou Holtz, and Brown likes Holtz almost as much as Holtz likes Brown.
Holtz walked off the practice field after his third day at Notre Dame last year and said, "Tim Brown is one of the finest I've ever seen. My wife could've picked out Tim Brown." Holtz wanted to recharge the Irish offense by using multiple formations—everything from the pro-set to the wishbone. But he has never liked shuttling players in and out. He needed a human Kitchen Magician—somebody to play wide receiver, flanker and tailback, with good hands and a quick mind and big enough to lay a block. "In other words," Holtz said, "we were looking for somebody from Krypton."
So what did Brown do? He set Notre Dame career records for kickoff touchdowns and all-purpose yardage. He averaged more than 20 yards a catch and traveled almost 15 yards every time he touched the ball. And he blew away his almost mater, SMU, collecting 235 all-purpose yards and scoring two touchdowns in a 61-29 SMUshing. Brown became so potent as a receiver that Penn State actually used three players to cover him on certain downs last year.