The true freshman receiver was thrust into triple duty in Jacksonville State’s win at Tennessee State last Saturday and he delivered a night that would make a senior’s career.
As the Gamecocks’ deep receiver, punt returner and, eventually, kickoff returner, Brown amassed 275 all-purpose yards — more than Tech’s total offense in the game. It included a 72-yard kickoff return that set up one touchdown and an 86-yard touchdown catch late in the third quarter that gave JSU its first lead in an eventual 37-28 victory.
And, you know, he dreamed it was going to happen.
“In the hotel, I actually had a room by myself,” Brown said. “I had a lot of downtime to think about it, just going through my plays in my head, resting, dreaming about it.
“I did dream about making big plays. It’s just a matter of how you prepare yourself. Coach (Jack) Crowe preaches that a lot. I think I prepared myself pretty good to go out and do the things I was able to do on the field.”
The reason for the single accommodation was part of the reason Brown got so much opportunity. He was scheduled to room with Gabe Chambers, but the sophomore receiver/kickoff returner didn’t make the trip recovering from a concussion he sustained earlier in the week.
The Gamecocks opened the game with Troymaine Pope and Washaun Ealey fielding kickoffs, but Pope still hadn’t fully come back from his knee injury and actually misplayed the first kick that came his way.
Brown, already handling punts in place of injured Alan Bonner (knee), was dispatched to return kicks the rest of the game. His first career kickoff return brought 34 yards.
He finished with two catches for 98 yards, four yards rushing, 29 yards in punt returns and 144 yards in kickoff returns.
Stepping up and delivering when one of his teammates goes down was one Brown’s dreams when he first arrived on campus.
Brown came to JSU with Carrollton, Ga., high school teammate Josh Barge, but they were told one of them would have to play this year. That decision became easy when Barge hurt his knee jumping track last spring and fell behind on the playbook while he was on the mend.
They also arrived with a plan of playing basketball, too; Brown twice played on a Youth USA Basketball Team which won gold in Europe and had several college offers to play point guard. Barge is said to still harbor those hoops dreams, but Brown said he’s too caught up in football right now to double up.
“When he first got here we didn’t know if he was going to be a guy we could count on this year or not,” Gamecocks offensive coordinator Ronnie Letson said. “As a true freshman it’s hard to know. But he came in and started making plays early and we were like, ‘Hey, this is guy is going to have to play for us.
“We know he has speed. You can’t teach speed, you can only recruit speed and that’s the main reason we recruited Telvin. He’s not very big, not very tall, but he can flat-out run. He made an unbelievable play on a guy who was in perfect position to make the play, in a coverage we weren’t expecting, but he jumps up in front of him and changes the ballgame.”
Brown’s two biggest plays came in the second half. He broke off a 72-yard kickoff return that answered a Tech touchdown; on the next play Coty Blanchard covered the remaining yardage to get the Gamecocks within five of the lead.
Later in the third quarter, he made an in-route adjustment on a pass along the sideline near midfield, got the Tech defender to fall and sprinted 86 yards for his first college touchdown to put the Gamecocks ahead 30-28. It was the longest pass play in the Crowe era and third longest in school history.
“Making a catch like that was in one of my dreams,” Brown said. “I really would’ve liked to have taken a punt return back; that was in the dreams, too. It didn’t work out that way, but it did work out another way and I’ll take both of them.
“It was just a great opportunity and I just took the most out of it. I hope I have more dreams like that.”
Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @JSUSports_Star.