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Gators fifth-year junior Jeremy Brown had not played since the 2010 season until Saturday.

Tuesday September 11, 2012Brown is Back, Feels Blessed at Another Chance

Gators fifth-year junior Jeremy Brown had not played since the 2010 season until Saturday.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Only a few people among the 87,000-plus at Kyle Field probably even noticed the seemingly insignificant moment on Saturday afternoon.

The Gators’ special-teams unit was about to take the field for a Texas A&M punt in the third quarter. When the Gators broke from their huddle on the sideline, No. 18 sprinted onto the field. That is normally true freshman tight end Kent Taylor’s number but Taylor didn’t make the trip to College Station.

Instead, it was the long-awaited return of fifth-year junior cornerback Jeremy Brown. Brown changed from his usual No. 8 to 18 because teammate Trey Burton, No. 8 on offense, was also on the punt-block team.

After everything Brown has gone through, he would have gone shirtless if it meant playing time.

“I just felt tremendously blessed to be with this opportunity, to go through so much and still have the opportunity to be able to come back and be around these guys and contribute in any way I can,’’ Brown said Tuesday. “I feel blessed and thankful to be here.”

Brown had not played since the 2010 season, his last game Urban Meyer’s final game as Florida’s coach in the Outback Bowl.

Brown missed all of last season due to a knee injury that at first was not considered serious.

However, the knee later required surgery, causing Brown to miss his third season in four years with the Gators. With the knee healed and hope of finally playing again, Brown broke his wrist during summer workouts, causing him to miss fall camp and drop deeper on the depth chart.

Brown had almost become a forgotten man as the Gators added depth in the secondary in the two recruiting classes since his last game. Despite all the speed bumps, the former Class 6A All-State selection never considered saying by to the game.

Asked what kept him going, Brown said: “My faith, knowing it’s just not me that I’m playing for. I’m playing for my family. There are a lot of people I inspire with my story.”

One of those people is Brown’s son Jaden, who turned 5 in August. Brown wants to use his story as a lesson for Jaden when he gets older.

“One day I’m going to have to look him in the eyes and talk to him about perseverance and determination and the things I’ve been through to be tremendous character building things for him,’’ Brown said “That’s really who it’s for.”

Brown signed with the Gators in 2008 out of Boone High School in Orlando. When he arrived on campus, Meyer compared him favorably to Janoris Jenkins, one of the top cover corners in school history and now a rookie with the Rams.

Brown’s bad luck started soon afterward when a chronic back injury sidelined Brown the entire 2008 and 2009 seasons. When he finally was healthy enough to play, Brown started 10 games and picked off three passes in 2010, returning one for 52 yards for a touchdown against Kentucky.

He was back until the knee injury cost him last season.

Brown’s goal now is to earn more playing time and re-establish his place on the defense.

“I feel great right now. I’m at a place where I feel like I’m past my injuries,’’ he said. “I’m still rehabbing my wrist, just trying to get it strong, but that’s not anything holding me back.

“Moving forward, I just want to continue to contribute in any way possible, whether that’s at corner, on special teams. I’m continually in the coaches’ ear everyday just to get on the field and be able to be a part of this team and obviously Gator Nation.”

Teammate Jon Bostic appreciates Brown’s commitment to making it all the way back from his various injuries.

Ironically, a pair of injuries helped Brown get on the field Saturday. Florida lost starting linebacker Jelani Jenkins (thumb) and defensive back Cody Riggs (foot) in the 20-17 win over the Aggies.

“It just shows how much of a fighter he is,’’ Bostic said. “He’s one of those types of guys you see in the training room 24/7. He’s not one of those guys that [are] ever down. He’s always laughing, smiling, [keeps] a positive attitude.

" I respect him for that. He is one of those guys who has pretty much been through everything and keeps coming back.”

 

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