MCGILL: 'Every Down' Levi Brown at Center of Herd Offense
The Word on the Herd -- Oct. 21, 2016
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Just call him Levi "Every Down" Brown.
The 276-pound freshman offensive lineman for Marshall has played 385 of a possible 436 offensive snaps this season. That is 88 percent of snaps in Brown’s first year of college football, including every single offensive play at Pittsburgh and last Saturday against Florida Atlantic.
MU offensive line coach Alex Mirabal calls Brown “tough as heck” and a player who “plays through pain and injuries.” That is the player Mirabal thought he was getting when he saw Brown, then a high school prospect, compete in a satellite camp at the University of Georgia. The week before the Georgia camp, Brown broke his nose at Auburn.
“He’s got cotton stuffed up his nose and he’s doing 1-on-1 pass rush without a helmet,” Mirabal said. “Then he re-breaks his nose and just keeps on going. When I saw that he became a priority. That is a guy we need.”
Brown shrugs off the perceived toughness. He never left the field in high school, so sitting down for a few while the Herd defense is a rare, but welcome, respite.
“It was new to me,” Brown said. “It helps you slow down mentally and pick apart what you are doing wrong and what you are doing right.”
Brown, who attended Heard County High School in Franklin, Georgia, says this is who he is.
Franklin is a one-stoplight town without much to do. Brown said his hometown has a Hardee’s, Subway and a BBQ stand, but little else. The town, with a population of 976 as of 2013, sits along the Chattahoochee River about 60 miles southwest of Atlanta.
With limited offerings, Brown channeled his energy into athletics, becoming a multi-sport athlete. He played offensive, defense and special teams for Heard County. He was the backup punter and occasional long snapper. He was even on the hands team for special teams, one of the few ways he showcased rare athleticism for a 6-foot-4 man who looks like a door frame.
He also played basketball and tennis – yes, he was a standout doubles player – and can hit a golf ball a long way.
“He’s very flexible, very bendy and very twisty,” Mirabal said. “Just an athlete.”
That athleticism was on display throughout the game against FAU, but on one first quarter play in particular. Marshall sophomore running back Keion Davis took a handoff and ran to the right, and it was Brown who was one of the offensive linemen pushing defenders toward the sideline as Davis cut up field for the 30-yard touchdown run.
Brown had actually pulled from his center position to get out in front of Davis and help pave the way.
“It’s rare for a center to pull,” Mirabal said. “There are times you know you shouldn’t pull there but you need to pull there because we want to get his athleticism out in front of the running backs. That is impressive.
“You get the play, you make the calls, you snap the ball and then, oh yeah, go pull. What an athlete.”
Brown is a favorite among teammates because of his personality, attitude and work ethic. He is a lauded by coaches because he keeps his eyes and ears open.
“He’s got a tremendous desire to get better and he’s a tremendous listener,” Mirabal said. “That, to me, is the most overlooked skill any athlete has. Because he is a great listener he is able to put things into practice right away.”
Brown is also a gentle giant. He plays with purpose and passion for the people who helped him get from a tiny Georgia town to major college football.
“My parents are proud and that’s something that makes me light up,” Brown said. “I come off the field and my dad is standing up and clapping for me. There’s not a better feeling.”