Thomas Brown named Herd running backs coach
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Nine years after rushing for 81 hard-earned against Marshall, Thomas Brown comes to Huntington to multiply that number exponentially as a Thundering Herd coach.
Brown, the former Georgia star runner who had a brief NFL career, was named Thursday as Marshall's new running backs coach under Doc Holliday. Brown comes to MU from Georgia State, where he was hired after spending the 2012 season at Tennessee-Chattanooga.
As the "silly season" finally subsides - we think - and MU's spring season begins Tuesday, the staff is finally filled. In the process, Holliday picks up another young coach with deep recruiting roots in Georgia.
"Thomas is an excellent addition to our staff," Holliday said. "He has competed at the highest level of our sport and has a tremendous reputation in Atlanta with players and coaches alike. We are pleased to welcome Thomas and his family to our program."
Brown was recruited at Georgia out of that state's Tucker High School in 2004, and played as a freshman in the Bulldogs' 13-3 win over the Herd. He rushed for 81 yards on 18 carries on an afternoon in which yards didn't come cheaply.
Marshall entered the game as a 19-point underdog. "It was a lot closer game than I thought it would be, coming into it," Brown said. "They played us tough."
Brown went on to rush for 2,646 yards, and his 3,750 all-purpose yards ranks fourth on Georgia's all-time list. He was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 2008 and ended up with the Cleveland Browns in 2009, appearing in just one regular-season game with no rushes.
Once he decided to end his playing career, he contacted Georgia coach Mark Richt and joined the strength and conditioning staff in 2010. He then went to Chattanooga to coach his natural position for the first time, helping the Mocs rush for 2,198 yards in a 6-5 season.
In January, he accepted a job with Georgia State and the new staff of coach Trent Miles. Much like the Herd lost the freshly hired Anthony Midget to Penn State, GSU lost Brown to Marshall after roughly two months.
"I was blessed to have the opportunity," he said. "I knew a little bit about Marshall and the tradition here, and I was really excited."
Position-wise, Brown replaces JuJuan Seider, who went upstate to his old West Virginia home. Brown inherits four backs who last fall combined for more than 1,800 yards and 20 touchdowns - Kevin Grooms, Steward Butler, Remi Watson and Essray Taliaferro.
Brown has only met briefly with the quartet, just long enough to introduce himself and outline his basic expectations. The death of his grandfather and resulting funeral kept him out of town for several days.
But he saw some clips of the Herd's game against Rice, which wasn't a bad choice - Butler, Grooms and Watson combined for 353 yards and six touchdowns in a 54-51 double-overtime win over the Owls.
Those runners didn't do much dancing around in that track meet.
"That's one thing that jumped at me right off the bat," Brown said. "They were very decisive runners, and when they got into open space they were able to make guys miss and go the distance."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsmock@ wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.