Wyoming’s Wrook Brown Prepared to ‘Pay Rent’ To Keep Starting Job
LARAMIE -- Craig Bohl issued a warning to last season's starting nickel corner before the start of spring football camp Tuesday in Laramie -- Don't get too comfortable.
"I talked to him today and I said, 'You have to keep that chip on your shoulder to move forward,'" Wyoming's 10th-year head coach said, referring to sophomore Wrook Brown, who started the final seven games of the 2022 campaign. "Nothing brings out the best in a man other than competition."
The sophomore has plenty of that, which reminded Bohl of one of his old familiar sayings.
"There's two hungry dogs and one piece of meat," he continued. "Somebody's going to get that meat."
That somebody could be sophomore Buck Coors or redshirt freshman Malique Singleton, two players this staff is very high on.
They like Brown, too.
The Salado, Texas product tallied 36 tackles last season, 27 of which came after stepping in for veteran Keonte Glinton, who was lost for the year with an injury mid-way through the season and eventually landed in the NCAA Transfer Portal.
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Brown joked Tuesday when asked to recall his first game on the active roster. That came much sooner than expected. The 5-foot-11, then 175-pound rookie thought he would possibly see the field on special teams in the Cowboys' opener at Illinois.
Little did he know, cramps would land Glinton on the sideline early, forcing Brown into action in the secondary.
"I didn't eat much the first few days before the game," he said with a slight grin. "... I didn't think I was playing on defense any, but now you're nervous the whole time. Then, as soon as you get in there for your first play, the nerves go away. But, yeah, pretty intense nerves."
Brown finished with five tackles and three pass breakups on the muggy afternoon in Champaign. It was a baptism by fire. Bohl even said Tuesday Brown "wasn't exactly ready for primetime."
That all changed in Week 7.
That night in Albuquerque, Brown registered a career-high 10 tackles, seven of the solo variety. He also broke up a big third-down pass, which helped preserve the 27-14 road victory over the Lobos.
"It was a lot different. I had a lot more confidence," he said. "Whenever you know you're going to go in and start, everybody wants you to be prepared. So they'll help you out during the week and they'll give you encouragement."
That certainly caught the attention of Bohl and Co.
"Wrook was a guy who came in that exceeded my expectations," Bohl said. "... What occurred is when he had his opportunity on the back end, he showed us that he can compete in our conference and play well."
Brown continued to make plays in the UW secondary, shadowing the conference's speedy slot receivers and tight ends. He isn't exactly an imposing figure on the field, but Brown plays much bigger than his frame would suggest. It's nothing new for eyebrows to raise when he tells people he's a football player. He could be confused for a kicker, at best.
"I get that a lot," he smiled, adding he is now tipping the scales around 190.
In a road tilt at Hawaii, he showed off his athleticism, stepping in front of a Brayden Schager pass late in the first quarter, returning it 50 yards for the score. A yellow hanky negated that pick-six. Linebacker Cole DeMarzo was the "guilty party," charged with roughing the passer.
"A lot of people give him a hard time about it, even though he didn't do anything," Brown said with a smile, referring to the questionable call that wiped that touchdown off the board. "It's a good running joke."
Brown knows this spring he will be engaged in a battle. Does he feel like he is the starter right now? Yes. Does he feel like it's his job when Texas Tech pays a visit to Laramie on Sept. 2 for the season opener?
There's a lot of time -- and competition -- between now and then.
Brown welcomes it, too. He's taking Bohl's words to heart.
"I think it's important to always be reminded that you have to keep that rent-is-due-every day mindset," he said. "So, hearing that from the big man kind of pounds that home."
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