After suffering through and working his way back from multiple back injuries during his first two years with the Florida Gators, cornerback Jeremy Borwn finally put it all together. He got healthy, played in 11 games and even made 10 starts while tallying 15 tackles, three interceptions and five pass defenses.
That was in 2010 and even that year he missed the final two games of the regular season with a right hamstring injury.
Then came the 2011 campaign, head coach Will Muschamp’s first at Florida. Brown expected to retain his starting job and go into the season as a player Muschamp could count on in the secondary.
Unfortunately for him, the injury bug reared its ugly head again. Brown suffered a knee injury in August and did not play a single snap in 2011 despite the coaching staff holding out hope that he would be able to return at some point. He never did and watched from the sidelines for the third time in his four years in Gainesville, FL.
But Brown picked himself back up, again.
He returned to practice with the Gators and started to get his mojo back. As his bad luck would have it, Brown’s comeback was stalled yet again when he fractured his wrist over the summer and was forced to have surgery in July.
“My body was just beat up. I was coming off a knee surgery last year. I probably wasn’t even…I don’t think I ever got to 100 percent,” he said on Tuesday. “Right before the season, I broke my wrist and had wrist surgery so I missed all of camp. It was just rough.”
Brown did what was necessary to get back on the field. His fourth major aliment since joining the team as a freshman would not stand in his way.
“It just shows how much of a fighter he is,” linebacker Jon Bostic said that September when Brown returned to practice less than two months after breaking his wrist. “He’s open of those type of guys, you see him in the training room 24/7. He’s not one of those guys who is ever down. He’s always laughing, smiling with a positive attitude. I respect him for that. He’s one of those guys who has been through pretty much everything and just keeps coming back.”
Brown, no longer a starter, played sparingly in 2012 and registered just five tackles on the season despite seeing limited action in 11 games.
Now a sixth-year redshirt senior, he knows 2013 is his first real opportunity to make an impact since his third-year redshirt sophomore season in 2010.
“In the bowl game I started feeling good,” he said, “and I’m good now.”
Life at Florida has not been easy for Brown, but the player credits a number of people around him for helping him get back up every single time he got knocked down over the last five years.
“Family, I have a good support system in place, a good group of friends. And Coach [Will] Muschamp, he’s been very supportive throughout the process,” he said.
Brown has high hopes for the Gators in 2013. He thinks freshman wide receiver Demarcus Robinson “is going to be a great player” and believes that sophomore Mike LB Antonio Morrison and redshirt junior Will LB Michael Taylor are “primed for the spotlight” and ready to “fill the void” left by Bostic and Jelani Jenkins.
He is especially excited to see what Morrison can do in his second year.
“Mad man. Hard-hitter. Crazy. Mean. Scary. I’m taking him to war every time we have a chance,” he opined. “He’s a great player. He’s going to special.”
While football is still a top priority for Brown, he is well aware that his chances of being a professional football player are nil due to the numerous injury red flags that have surfaced throughout his career.
He is making the most of his sixth year at Florida, though, by continuing his education. Brown announced Tuesday that he got into graduate school at UF for sports management and hopes to work with a professional team after graduation.
Before his professional life can begin, however, Gators football remains his calling.
“That’s a big goal of mine, to continue to progress with my education, do well with that,” he said. “It’s my last go-around. I want to have a good season, stay healthy. With me it’s just about my health. I don’t think I’ve had a full year being healthy since I’ve been here. If I can just be healthy and get these young guys going, be a good mentor and perform when my number is called, that will be a success for me.”
Photo Credit: Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel