It was hardly the senior season Mack Brown envisioned. In fact, it was about a third of the season Brown envisioned.
The AJC Super 11 tailback and one-time top-rated prospect in Georgia said at the outset his goal was to rush for 3,000 yards and win the state championship his final year at Martin Luther King High. It ended with him getting barely 1,000 yards and standing on the sidelines as the Lions fell to Newnan in the second round of the playoffs.
Hamstring issues that arose in the preseason finally got the best of Brown. He had eight yards on three carries in his last game and finished with 1,054 yards and 11 touchdowns for the season.
“It was frustrating,” said Brown, a five-star prospect who committed to Florida over Georgia in late July. “We had a good season but I wished we could have played a little longer. I really didn’t play that much the last three games because of my hamstrings. I kept trying to but just couldn’t go. So it was hard to watch.”
In retrospect, Brown probably tried too hard to play. He first experienced hamstring problems in an exhibition game against Cedar Grove, which at the time was diagnosed as a cramping issue. He could barely run by the second game of the season. By the fourth, he developed problems in his right hamstring. By the end of the regular season he had resorted to acupuncture for relief.
“Yeah, if I had it to do all over again, I’d probably sit him down after the McNair game,” M.L. King coach Corey Jarvis said. “This year was tough on him because he’s a competitor and he wanted to play. You hate to see it happen to a kid like that in his senior year. But it was a learning experience for him and for me. We had a great ballclub and we could still be playing right now if we handled that differently.”
Brown wasn’t the Lions only injury casualty. Wide receiver Demarco Robinson, a junior who is being recruited by Tennessee and other SEC and ACC schools, went down midseason with a broken foot.
“That was about 75 percent of our offense right there,” Jarvis said.
Now Brown will have plenty of time to rest. He said his injuries won’t require surgery and doctors have advised his only exercise be limited to a stationary bike.
As for coming up short on his goals, Brown remains philisophical.
“When you have big goals, you might not reach them but maybe you can get close to them and that’s why you keep playing hard,” he said. “I probably shouldn’t have played as much as I did but I wanted to help my team win.”
Meanwhile, Brown’s recruitment continues. Tennessee assistant coach Ed Orgeron was at the school on Monday for one last crack at him (the Vols are also eyeing juniors Robinson, quarterback/defensive back Kevin Byard and linebacker Patrick Callaway).
But Brown said he plans on sticking with the Gators, who have stuck with him throughout this trying season.
“They’ve just told me to stay off the hamstrings and get well for them next year,” Brown said.