TAMPA, Fla. – Not much is certain when it comes to USF football in the immediate aftermath of a 1-11 season and with the announcement of a new coach likely by the end of this week. Yet, Byrum Brown sure has the look and feel of a very promising future.
True, he has started only two games and attempted all of 50 passes. The true freshman quarterback, however, has impressed every which way.
“You can’t ask more from him,” said running back Brian Battie, following what turned into a thrilling 46-39 loss to visiting UCF on Saturday night. “He looked like he had been back there for four years,”
Indeed, it has been all of four games for Brown, who maintains four years of eligibility. Mature on the field and very well-spoken off of it, Brown impressed Daniel Da Prato the moment the QB arrived in Tampa.
“From the moment he stepped foot on this campus, he has been a leader,” said Da Prato, a former college quarterback who served as the Bulls’ interim coach for the final three games. “He does things the way you want them done. You want him to step up, take charge, put his best foot forward all of the time and lead by example. He has shown that since he got here.”
Brown debuted in a mop-up role at Temple on November 5 before coming on for the injured Katravis Marsh late in the fourth quarter against visiting SMU the following week. He completed a drive Marsh started by throwing a 17-yard touchdown pass to Jayson Littlejohn.
The Rolesville, N.C. native made his initial start at Tulsa and completed his first 21 passes. He finished the Friday night game with 240 yards and three touchdowns through the air, and 76 yards and a TD on the ground.
Against UCF, the Bulls trailed 28-0 midway through the second quarter and 31-7 with less than 10 minutes to play in the third. Brown kept things together, though, and the offense took advantage of short fields resulting from turnovers. His 42-yard touchdown run with 7:02 remaining in the game gave USF a 39-38 lead.
Brown passed for 140 yards, one touchdown and an interception that was not his doing. He ran for 109 yards and two scores.
“He’s a stud,” said Da Prato. “His best days are way ahead of him. He does an incredible job and, I am not surprised (at what Brown did Saturday). It’s the way he prepares. He has a great future ahead of him.”
Brown’s performances against the Golden Hurricane and Knights showed that he was anything but a wide-eyed freshman stepping into the fire. Rather, he far more often than not appeared in control while dictating the pace.
“I learned that I can play at this level,” he said. “That is always one of the few things that goes through your mind when coming into college. I have confidence in myself, which was building over the course of the two (starts).”
He is smart enough to know things can change, especially with a new coaching staff likely coming on board. Still, he will control what he can.
“Get back to work,” Brown said, when asked about what’s next. “Nobody is promised anything. I have a lot to learn and to improve on.”