Vernell Brown returning to Gators as Florida’s director of player development

By Adam Silverstein
February 12, 2018
Vernell Brown returning to Gators as Florida’s director of player development
Football

Former Florida Gators defensive back Vernell Brown, a Gainesville native, has decided to formally return to the program for the first time since finishing his football playing career in 2005. Brown announced Monday on his Facebook account that he has been offered and will accept the opportunity to join the Gators as the director of player development under head coach Dan Mullen.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to return to The Swamp to assist in teaching this generation of athletes what it means to be a Florida Gator both on and off the field,” Brown said in a quote on a graphic that appeared to be produced by Florida.

An all-state quarterback and the best high school football player in the Gainesville area back in 2000, Brown committed to former Florida head coach Steve Spurrier out of high school. He remained with the Gators through the first year of former head coach Urban Meyer‘s tenure, starting eight games at cornerback as a redshirt senior prior to breaking his leg. Brown fought back to rehab and play in the 2006 Outback Bowl, where he returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown in his final game.

While Brown was a talented player with 11 starts in 45 games, it was his intrinsic leadership abilities off the field that Meyer especially valued as he took over the Gators program. Meyer not only named Brown a captain and member of the famous “leadership committee,” he also referred to the fifth-year defensive back as the “Face of Florida Football.”

“If there’s a poster or there’s someone out there that says ‘Florida Gators,’ I want his mug right there,” Meyer said after Brown broke his leg on Nov. 5, 2005, against Vanderbilt. “I want people to see Vernell Brown; he’s what we stand for. We don’t stand for five stars. We don’t stand for highly-recruited guys that maybe get too much credit. We don’t stand for the guys that come out early. That’s not what Florida is all about. Florida football is about a guy that outworks his opponent and is maybe the underdog, and he’s a fighter. He will fight you until he can’t no more.”

Following that bowl game, Brown indicated he may one day want to coach, though he was first focused on making it to the NFL. While that did not happen, Brown has stayed around the game, spending the last few years working with Gainesville Panthers Youth Football.

“Although I am extremely excited about the opportunity to mold young men during their collegiate experience and prepare them for their post collegiate opportunities athletically & professionally, I will always remember and forever be grateful for the lives I was able to impact throughout my tenure in youth sports,” he wrote on Facebook. “Hopefully, the foundation that was established was solid enough for our young boys/girls & parents to build on moving forward!!”

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