Brown has more weapons since he went down, including Stefon Diggs, one of the nation’s premier wide receivers. He knows he has to show people he can also throw the ball effectively (in 2011, he completed less than 50 percent of his passes, with seven touchdown passes against six interceptions).
“It motivates me because I know that’s not what I am,” he said of the running-quarterback stereotype. “I’m an athlete. I’m an athletic quarterback that can run and pass. But when it comes down to it, people are going to say what they’re going to say. There’s nothing I can do. You know, quarterbacks have to pass. That’s why you play quarterback instead of running back or receiver. At the end of the day, I’m just going to go out there and lead my team.”
There are few prouder fathers in American college football today than Clark David Brown Sr. He was there the day everyone met before the surgery, when he told his son: “This injury isn’t going to define you. You can’t allow it to define you. What will define your legacy is how you respond to this adversity.”
“I don’t think his mother and I could be prouder of him,” Clark says. “Just the work ethic he put in. And hats off to the staff at Maryland. I think that’s important to mention. They gave him the attention and treatment and encouragement he needed to bring him back.”
Before the injury, C.J. Brown could do a 360-degree dunk in a standing position. He doesn’t plan to try anything of the sort until he finishes football. And he does have a little trepidation of not actually being hit in a regular season game since November 2011.
But he’s coming out of that tunnel Saturday with his teammates against Florida International, and nothing will take the place of that feeling.
“You know, my family was there for me, my teammates were there for me, everyone,” Brown says. “It was just the little things that kind of put a pep in your step that I’m very thankful for. Like a teammate would say, ‘Hey, man, glad to have you back.’ It seems like something small, but it meant so much to me to hear that.”
C.J. Brown smiles wide, pauses and thinks about what this weekend will be like.
“I took a whole year, but I’m back,” he says. “I’m ready for Saturday.”
For more by Mike Wise, go to washingtonpost.com/wise.