INDIANAPOLIS — Three years ago, quarterback Levi Brown took what he termed a “leap of faith” on the college level.
Brown, who played high school football at Mt. Juliet, was sitting as a backup at the University of Richmond, an FCS school a notch below the college football’s highest level.
Brown decided to transfer away from the Spiders program and actually made the jump to Division I-A, landing with perennial Sun Belt Conference contender Troy.
Brown’s gamble paid off, as he not only eventually became the starter at Troy halfway through the 2008 season, but now has parlayed that into an invitation to the NFL Combine here this week.
“We had Tim Hightower. He was our running back when he was there, and obviously a great player,” Brown recalled of his Richmond days. “He starts for the Cardinals now. So we kind of became more of just a power running team and a lot of handing the ball off to Tim and we kind of starting doing some zone read stuff, and that wasn’t my strength at the time.”
Brown sat out the 2007 season under NCAA transfer rules and watched as Jamie Hampton, a combination runner/passer, guided the Trojans through the first five games of the 2008 season. That’s when an injury to Hampton thrust Brown into the lineup. Given the chance, Brown made the most of it, holding the job for the rest of the season and throughout 2009.
“I hadn’t quite grown into my body. I was tall, lanky and slow. That led to me not playing as much, and obviously everybody wants to play,” Brown recalled of the transfer. “It was kind of weird because I transferred up, when I wasn’t even playing in I-AA. So it was kind of a leap of faith, but I felt like I could do it. I felt like I was good enough to do it. I went out on a limb and did it and it worked out.”
Now, Brown hopes to make things work out here at Lucas Oil Stadium and take the next step in the process – the NFL.
While Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy will garner the headlines among the quarterbacks class of 2010, Brown just hopes to get himself noticed.
“I’ve got a lot to prove. I don’t get talked about on ESPN all the time like they do, because I’m from Troy and they’re from the big schools,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to get recognized and get my name out there and let everybody see me make all the throws. It’s important for me to have a good Combine, to throw the ball well and show that I’m just as good as they are.”
One thing Brown has on his side, is a former NFL quarterback on his side. His agent, Joe Linta, set up a session for Brown in Philadelphia to watch film with former Eagles quarterback and ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski – something Brown called a dream come true.
“I got to go up to NFL Films and meet with Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge and all those guys up there,” he said. “I got to sit down with Jaworski for about two hours and watch film and had a great time. He was great. He was so down to earth. He walked me through film. We watched some of Peyton Manning’s film, and then we watched some of my film, and it was great.”
Asked how it felt to have Jaworski be crucial of his work, Brown responded enthusiastically, “Coming from Jaws, I handled it great. He can say whatever he wants, and I’ll listen to it.”
Now it appears Brown has plenty of people listening and looking at him as a dark horse quarterback candidate in this year’s draft.
Even the hometown Titans have taken notice, as Brown confirmed representative from Tennessee made contact with him on Wednesday night.
For now, Brown won’t be concerned with what teams are interested in him, just that some take notice of his work. And even if he makes it as a late-round pick, he won’t be disappointed.
“It’s definitely not an exact science. People have gotten it wrong before. Obviously, I’d like to go high, but if I don’t, it’s not the end of the world,” Brown said. “I’m glad to be here and I’m going to come out here and throw as well as I can. I’m going to do everything. I know a lot of quarterbacks aren’t doing all the drills or whatever. But I’m going to do everything they want me to do. I’ve got nothing to hide. I’m going to do everything they ask me to do, and they can be the judge.”
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