October 19, 2013

Richie Brown making waves as special teams/defensive stalwart

Mississippi State fans were thrilled at the decision that linebacker Richie Brown made on signing day two years ago. The redshirt freshman out of Long Beach was a highly-touted recruit and an instinctive linebacker that the Bulldogs knew would fit right in. After a year on the bench redshirting, Brown is making his mark for the defense, but is also making an impact in special teams.

"I'm on every special teams. It's a fun thing and a really good thing and it's a great way to learn," Brown said of his freshman experience. "If you want to go on to the next level, it's probably the most important things to know because if you want to stay on an NFL team you have to play special teams. It's also one of the most important game-changing things and a lot of fun. You get to run and make some big plays."

Being on special teams has become one of the more ritualistic things at MSU as players have come through and paid their dues on the special units and it's been more of a want-to attitude than regretful. Brown's positional coach and coordinator Geoff Collins called the group, "proud".

"One of the things I'm proud of is punt team is a very valuable team here. There's a lot of prestige and pride and four of the linebackers right on the front line," Collins said of Brown and his teammates on special teams. "Kickoff and kickoff return team those guys are stepping up, making plays and being really involved. That's the big thing coach Mullen stresses, if you can't play on special teams you're not going to play on offense and defense. The young guys are getting a chance to do that for us."

One of Brown's predecessors in which he learned under, Cam Lawrence, spent all four years getting time on special teams and earned a contract with the Dallas Cowboys making his debut this past weekend against the Washington Redskins. Lawrence made a big-time block on a big kick return that caught lots of attention, and an eventual fine from the NFL office.

"It was a good play but you can't do it anymore," Brown said with a laugh. "I feel bad for him because he's losing a pay check. I'm glad I don't get fined for those things."

As for Brown and the current group of linebackers, they have begun game week in preparation of Kentucky this coming Thursday night in front of a national audience on ESPN. There are several things to clean up but nothing major according to the freshman.

"We're really just trying to make sure we get our fits down right. Just little gap assignment things and making sure we do all those little things right and making sure that we don't get out of those gaps. We're just trying to stay sound as a defense.

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