The next time you hear somebody say that the Texas vs. The Nation game doesn't matter, tell them the story of former UTEP standout Cornelius Brown. Brown didn't have a remarkable senior season. He was playing in a defensive scheme that was highly susceptible to big plays (I'm convinced that the 3-3-5 is the worst defensive scheme in college football). When Brown was given a chance to play alongside a team of future mid-to-late NFL draft picks and potential free agents, he absolutely made the most of it. He returned a fumble 35 yards for the games first touchdown and made some key plays on special teams. In his last game at the Sun Bowl, he was named the game's MVP. "I wanted to give the fans something to cheer about before the game and I did," he told ESPN.com's Graham Watson after the game. While many people in El Paso don't care much for the Texas vs. the Nation game, there's no denying that the game can have a positive impact on a student-athletes draft stock.
Brown will be the only UTEP Miner to participate in the coming weekend's NFL Draft Combine. In fact, he will be one of only eleven players from all of C-USA to make the trip to Indy. The road to the NFL for a C-USA athlete is a terribly difficult one.Brown didn't garner a lot of individual attention this season. As a sophomore, he had a break-out year posting career highs in interceptions (4) and tackles (49 with 39 solo) Brown struggled to equal his incredibly productive sophomore campaign and his numbers trailed off later in his career. In his senior season, he played in 12 games but did not have a single interception.
The reality is that next week Brown has been given an incredible opportunity to match up with the nation's best at his position and show what he's got. At the combine, scouts aren't going to care about his interception tally. They're going to focus on his forty time and vertical leap. Brown absolutely has the physical talent to draw some favorable attention his way. He has decent size for a cornerback (5'11, about 200 pounds).
Where Brown will get a chance to show his true draft value will be on the track. He has legitimate 4.4 speed and some impressive forty and shuttle times will go a long way toward putting his name on a draft board in April Brown made the most out of his opportunity at the Texas vs. The Nation game. Hopefully, next year when people around you knock the Texas vs. The Nation game, you can show them Brown's name on an NFL roster and tell them how valuable a game it can be.
Next week, I'll post the results of his workouts; but for now, enjoy this clip of my favorite all-time Cornelius Brown play. I was at this game in Lubbock and I still remember when Brown recorded his first interception as a Miner off of future Davey O'Brien Award Winner Graham Harrell.