Fans only genuinely notice them when they do something wrong, they never get an opportunity to touch the football, and when a lot of fans do comment on them it’s usually regarding their girth. Such is the plight of a Cougar offensive lineman.
Sound like fun? For some the answer would be a resounding “no.” This is especially so when considering the endless workouts and practice sessions, all while having to balance a full class load and sometimes even a family.
Balancing all that could easily turn into a grind for a lot of people, but that certainly hasn’t been the case for Terence Brown. Since arriving home from his mission Brown has gone about most practice sessions with an apparent grin on his face, as he seems to be enjoying every second of BYU’s rigorous football and academic demands.
“When I got home from my mission I told myself that if I’m going to play this game then I better enjoy it”, explained Brown. “So that’s really my main thing. Whenever I stop having fun, then I’m probably not going to be playing anymore. Fortunately I’m having a lot of fun and I don’t see myself not playing any time soon.”
So what’s so fun about being an offensive lineman?
“It’s just working together well as a close-knit unit," he responded. “To me it’s a beautiful thing and just fun when you’re working together in sync as a unit. We all get along great and if you’re part of an offensive line that really doesn’t like each other or gel well together, then I really don’t think you’re going to have much success. We’re all good buddies and it’s just fun being with the other guys on the team. When we’re on the field and work so well together, it’s a beautiful thing.”
It’s important for an offensive lineman to have a short memory. When playing a position that relies so heavily on technique, a lot of mistakes are bound to be made initially, particularly with a young group of linemen that works to improve as individuals and as a unit.
“Geez, if you’re going to get down and think, ‘Wow, I really screwed up,’ you’re never going to get anywhere," related Brown. “So when the young guys like Fono [Vakalahi] screw up I just tell them to forget it, don’t do it again and just go back out there and have fun.”
Vakalahi has seen a lot of initial success by breaking the two-deep roster, where he’s listed behind Brown at the right guard spot. The young freshman has taken ready notes from Brown as he works to improve upon his game every day.
“I really look up to Terence Brown," remarked Vakalahi. “He’s been helping me out from day one and I love his attitude. He’s been taking me to the film room and he’s always there to help me get better. He’s all about having fun out there and it’s definitely the right attitude. I’m having a blast so far, that’s for sure.”
Brown’s attitude, among other factors, has enabled the Cougar offensive front to go from a preseason concern to an afterthought, as they’ve done very well in giving Max Hall time to throw and have also gotten a good push upfield during running plays.
“Of course people were concerned going in," said Brown. “When you graduate four starters and have just one guy returning as a starter who was only a freshman, yeah, of course people were concerned and for good reason. Fortunately we’ve come together as a unit and I think it’s mostly due to the attitude we’ve taken with going about on how we improve and how we play the game.”
The attitude, again, is simply to have fun.
“We’re all real positive guys," he said. “With an offensive line everyone has to be doing well so you can work together, and we’re doing just that. We all have the same positive attitude and it’s working. We obviously have a lot to work on and keep improving, but if we keep working with this same attitude, we’ll be fine. We have a ton of upside. We’re still young, so that’s a very good thing. To be able to play like we have and knowing how much we still have to improve, wow, that’s exciting.”
Continuing the Tradition
While Brown is merely a sophomore, he’s been committed to BYU since 2004. A big part of why he committed is simply due to the tradition BYU has in always fielding productive offensive lines. Brown had a desire to be a part of that tradition.
The team brought in five true freshmen offensive linemen this season, and the reason those freshmen came to BYU is no doubt similar to the reason Brown had five years ago. Count Vakalahi in as one of those very aware of BYU’s strong offensive line tradition.
“The coaches here are amazing and I’ve learned so much in just two months, it’s incredible," he related. “Terence is always telling me when I make mistakes to just learn from it and don’t worry about it and to just have fun, and it’s easy to do that with how the guys in front of us help us and how Coach Weber is. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”
Brown has taken ready note of the successes his protégé has had so far and isn’t really all that surprised.
“That’s just what BYU does; they bring in top athletes every year and I believe BYU will always have strong offensive lines," he noted. “All these guys, Fono, Terry Alletto, Ryan Mulitalo, Tui [Crichton], they’re probably only going to end up better than we are. Right now it’s important for me and the others to teach them what is important and how to have success.
“They expect great things out of the newcomers and they should," added Vakalahi. “It’s up to us to continue the great offensive line tradition they have here and that’s a big reason why I came here. So far it’s going great, as good as I could possibly hope for. Now I just need to keep working, keep going and I need to just keep on having fun along with the rest of the guys and we’ll do well in continuing the tradition they have here.”