Vanderbilt lineman ready to play with sound body, mind

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 7:56pm

Mylon Brown was listed at 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds and figured to factor into Vanderbilt’s offensive line as a redshirt-freshman last fall. Instead, he came off the bench and saw limited action in just six games.

Brown sees the shortage of playing time as a result of his own shortcomings.

“To say that I felt like I should have played more would be saying the coaches cheated me, [but] I just cheated myself,” Brown said. “I got what I deserved. Last year I was a body just looking to get through practice. Now, I actually want to be good at football. ... I don’t allow myself to drag behind.”

Describing his turnaround as “a 180,” the new coaching regime believes Brown is getting what he deserves — a starting spot at right guard for Saturday’s season opener against Elon.

He is the lone addition to an offensive line that returns four starters and has another one, Logan Stewart, on the sidelines due to an undisclosed injury.

As soon as head coach James Franklin and a new staff took over in December, Brown’s personal makeover began. The native of Trilby, Fla., trimmed off nearly 20 pounds, dropping below 300 and regaining his quickness and strength.

The latter, he said, could be directly linked to Dwight Galt, who serves as the Commodores’ director of performance enhancement (strength and conditioning coach).

“When I do a lift and when I condition, he has a personality that makes you want to work for him. You don’t want to disappoint him,” Brown, who is currently listed at 300 pounds, said. “He has been my biggest fan and no one wants to disappoint their biggest fan.”

Brown did not feel it was his physique that held him back last season. It was his mind.

Franklin, Galt and offensive line coach Herb Hand — the lone holdover from last year’s staff — weren’t about to let him repeat 2010.

“From last year, I am not the same person — more mentally than physically,” he said. “This staff has done a good job in motivating me and helping me realize my potential and helping me reach it. I haven’t reached my potential, but I have made a 180 and I have a long way to go.”

When Hand arrived at Vanderbilt last year after three seasons at Tulsa, he realized Brown possessed the physical tools required to be an impact lineman in the Southeastern Conference. But Brown’s mental strength left something to be desired.

So Hand stayed on Brown’s case — and he still has. Now, though, the difference is obvious.

“You want to say he flipped a switch or whatever — he just had to make the decision that he was going to make some changes in his life that were going to allow him to reach his potential,” Hand said. “That is 90 percent of the battle. The other 10 percent of it is hard work and getting in there and doing the daily grind to improve. Those are the biggest differences, the fact that he has made that commitment level and changed his mindset.

"I am really looking forward to seeing him in action, seeing all the hard work he has put in carry over onto the field on Saturday.”