TAMPA, Fla. – Standing behind the podium in the bowels of Raymond James Stadium late on the Saturday evening on Thanksgiving weekend, running back Brian Battie raved about how true freshman quarterback Byrum Brown calmly rallied USF from a 28-point deficit in what ultimately would be a one-score, season-ending defeat against UCF
“He looked like he had been back there for four years,” he said. “You can’t ask more from him.”
Daniel Da Prato, then serving as interim head coach and quarterbacks coach, had similar praise.
“He’s a stud,” he exclaimed. “From the moment he stepped on campus he has been a leader. He does things the way you want them done.”
Earlier last season, then-head coach Jeff Scott noted how Brown looked like an “All-American kid” upon arrival at USF and that the young man is “going to have an awesome career” with the Bulls.
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While Battie has taken his electrifying style of play to Auburn, Da Prato is an assistant at Texas State and Scott was relieved of his duties with three games remaining in the 2022 season, Brown has continued to impress at USF.
Season-ending injuries to Gerry Bohanon and Katravis Marsh opened the door for Brown to start the Bulls’ final two games, against Tulsa and UCF. He totaled 565 yards and seven touchdowns.
Brown’s praise-worthy diligence continued through winter workouts and spring drills under a new staff headed by Alex Golesh. In fact, at the mid-point of spring drills, Golesh seemingly could not find enough good things to say about how Brown was grasping the offense.
“Byrum has had as good a spring as I could have ever asked for,” he said at the time. “He’s grown every day, he’s improved every day and has not made the same mistake twice.”
Golesh, who was the offensive coordinator at Tennessee the past two seasons with quarterback Hendon Hooker totaling 68 touchdowns while throwing only five interceptions, said more of the same following Friday night’s spring game, which was on campus at Corbett Stadium.
“I am so proud of where Byrum is right now,” he said. “That young guy is light years ahead of what I saw (on film) at the end of last season, and I thought he came in and operated really well as a freshman.”
Brown, still only 18, well-spoken and humble, said he was pleased with many of the things he did during the spring game. What stood out about his comments was what he planned to later in the evening. He said he was going to “dive deep into” the video, “look into what I did and didn’t do” and that he was “eager to get better.”
Sure, many young players say the right things. Brown, however, is doing the right things and is unwavering in his desire to get better. Frankly, it is difficult not to be impressed by him.
“I am just trying to be the best Byrum that I can be, best person, best quarterback I can be,” said the North Carolina native. “Wherever that takes me and whatever the coaches decide, that’s their decision. I am just going to keep improving, keep growing, keep learning and do everything I can in order to be the best me.”
Golesh, quarterbacks coach Joel Gordon and others will have decisions to make as there is depth at the quarterback position. Though Katravis Marsh announced last month that he was stepping away from the game after sustaining a neck injury against SMU late last season, there are numbers at the position and the competition come preseason camp is sure to be a hot topic.
Gerry Bohanon was held out of spring drills, but much a presence while learning a new offense and preparing to return from a season-ending shoulder injury sustained in mid-October against Tulane. Bohanon, who transferred from Baylor, was the Bulls’ unquestioned No. 1 signal caller prior to his injury.
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Coastal Carolina transfer Bryce Archie and returnee Ryan Bolduc, who was suddenly next in line behind Brown at the end of last season, drew praise from Golesh for their work this spring. Israel Carter is a Golesh recruit who will arrive on campus this summer after initially committing to Arizona State.
For Brown, the summer and preseason camp will be about continuing to learn while asserting himself in a manner consistent with his position.
“Knowing that it takes more than just putting in the work,” he said. “You can’t just be a silent leader. You have to be a vocal leader as well. I feel like I took a step in that direction during the offseason and into spring ball, becoming more of a vocal leader and (leading) in the weight room, on the field, in the film room.”
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