Provo • Braden Brown, BYU’s senior right tackle, sacrificed his individual goals for the good of the team in 2009.
That selflessness, as it turns out, could pay off next April at the National Football League draft.
Two games into Brown’s freshman season, after a 54-3 win at Tulane, BYU coaches approached him on the plane ride back to Provo and asked the all-state tight end from Salt Lake City’s Judge Memorial and Highland high schools to move to the offensive line.
He agreed, and after starting two games as an undersized, 245-pound redshirt freshman, became a three-year starter. Brown, now a 6-foot-6, 300-pound right tackle, will play his final game at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday night when 5-4 BYU hosts 1-8 Idaho (8:15 p.m., ESPNU).
“Having the opportunity to move over to tackle has been a really good move for me,” Brown said. “I was grateful for the opportunity when it first happened. Looking back, I couldn’t have pictured having a more fun career, or playing anywhere else.”
Many BYU fans are familiar with Brown’s inspiring story of how he was hospitalized for three weeks at the age of 4 after being rescued by his father in a house fire. His father, Leslie, barely survived the ordeal after suffering third-degree burns on more than 30 percent of his body, and was in the hospital for three months.
But the Salt Lake City native doesn’t tell about that ordeal when asked what makes him unique or different.
“I have collected over $1,000 in change. It is probably closer to $1,500 at this point. I collect change,” he shrugged. “Is that different?”
He could be collecting a nice NFL paycheck someday, too, after watching his brother, Les, almost make it as a tight end for the Miami Dolphins earlier this year before getting cut. Les Brown’s story garnered national headlines because he did not play college football, but was so impressive at BYU’s Pro Day last spring that the Dolphins offered him a free-agent tryout.
Some NFL draft experts list Braden Brown as a potential late-round pick; others say he will have to go the free-agent route.
“I think he’s got a shot because he’s long, he’s athletic and he runs like a deer,” said BYU offensive line coach Mark Weber. “Some of the best offensive linemen were either defensive linemen or tight ends, like Braden was. He’s unique for an offensive lineman because he doesn’t have an ounce of fat. He’s progressed well, and he’s an exceptional athlete for an offensive lineman.”
Brown said he got his first start at tackle in 2009 against New Mexico, and quickly realized weighing just 250 pounds “wasn’t going to work out too well in my favor.”
So he drastically changed his diet and workout habits before the 2010 season, and has gradually reshaped his body while also changing his mindset.
“It has been a goal of mine since I was a young kid to play in the NFL,” he said. “It is something I am going to push for. Hopefully I have played well enough to have the opportunity to do that.”
Braden Brown file
• Made switch from tight end to offensive line his freshman season and has been a three-year starter at offensive tackle.
• Part of a BYU offensive line in 2011 that allowed no sacks in five games and two or fewer in 10 games.
Idaho at BYU
P Saturday, 8:15 p.m.
TV • ESPNU