When Mark Richt was hired at the end of 2015, one of the main assistants he brought with him was Thomas Brown. Brown was a former NFL running back who played for Richt at the University of Georgia, and after spending time as a running backs coach at UT-Chatanooga, Marshall and Wisconsin, he returned to his alma mater to join Coach Richt’s staff as the running back’s coach. Upon following Richt to Coral Gables, CMR promoted him to “offensive coordinator” (CMR calls the plays, Thomas Brown controls the run game) but if we take a look at Coach Brown’s total body of work you can see why. During the 2013 season at Marshall, they boasted the only non-Power 5 rushing attack to have 3 running backs eclipse 500 yards that season, and ranked 24th nationally in rushing at 205.9 yards per game. During his one season at Wisconsin, Coach Brown guided current NFL-standout Melvin Gordon to the second best season by a college running back EVER, as Gordon rushed for 2587 yards and scored 32 touchdowns. Their backup running back, Corey Clement (current Super Bowl Champion) nearly added another 1000 rushing yards, as the teammates set the FBS record for rushing yards teammates with 3536 yards. Coach Brown then spent a one-season stint at Georgia under CMR, and guided recent 1st-round draftee Sony Michel to a 1076 yard season.
In his first year in Coral Gables, Coach Brown inherited a talented sophomore running back in Mark Walton, and Walton’s progression appeared headed in the right direction as he amassed 1117 yards and 14 touchdowns on 5.3 yards per carry. The Canes would go on to win 9 games and the Russell Athletic Bowl that season, the Canes first bowl win since 2006. The Canes rushing game was expected to be a huge strength for Miami in 2017, and it started off as expected (if not better) as Walton reeled off 428 yards on 7.3 yards per carry in a little over 4 games. Then the unfortunate happened, as Walton went down with a season-ending ankle injury against Florida State. Many Canes fans saw the writing on the wall, that our magical season appeared to be over before it really got off the ground. Thankfully, when you have someone like Coach Brown working with your running backs, it was easy to enforce the next man up policy. Travis Homer became a workhorse for Miami, finishing with 902 yards on 6 yards per carry and 7 TDs. Despite not taking over the starting running back reigns until 5 games into the season, Homer was named to the All-ACC Second Team at the end of the season. Not only did Homer fill in well, but he showed in big-time games, hanging 170 yards on Georgia Tech to help the Canes compete a miraculous comeback, and 146 yards in prime time in the huge Notre Dame matchup.
While the Canes were middle of the road in College Football when it came to total rushing last season, Miami did average a very respectable 5.0 yards per carry. Coach Brown’s magic hasn’t just been felt on the field, as he has already had a very successful tenure recruiting while at Miami as well. in the 2018 class, Brown helped reel in 5-star prospect Lorenzo Lingard and 4-star prospect Cam’ron Davis. Both were very highly-ranked recruits, as well as both being local talent. Recruiting well in the Greater Miami region is a great way to help propel the team forward.
A place for improvement for Coach Brown is to convince CMR to run the ball more. Running Back is an extremely stacked position in Coral Gables, and to let the wealth of talent be used more should be a goal for the season. The recruiting staff brought in full back Realus George this past recruiting cylce. which would yield itself to thinking that the Canes may be embracing more of a power runner style offense. I believe it’s a step in the right direction, and hopefully we’ll see more success on the ground this season as well.
What do you think of Coach Thomas Brown’s performance so far with the U? Let us know in the comments.