Jake Brown steps up for UCF

Brandon Helwig, Publisher
UCF Sports

It all starts up front with the offensive line.

UCF reeled off a staggering 603 yards of offense and 350 yards of rushing against Memphis, all the while continuing to keep McKenzie Milton sackless through the first three games.

Despite some health issues, the Knights' o-line is showing to be an unexpected strength. And one of those players rising to the challenge is Jake Brown, a redshirt sophomore who has started at guard and this past game occupied the right tackle spot after Wyatt Miller departed with an early-game ankle injury.

"I haven't practiced tackle since probably fall camp," Brown said. "I practiced tackle and guard throughout spring ball. I was playing tackle behind Wyatt all last year, so it wasn't very difficult. It just all kind of came back to me. For the first few plays I was in the guard mindset still. Not really thinking about it. Then the light clicked on and I was ready to go at tackle.

"It's like G says," referencing his offensive line coach Greg Austin. "It's always next man up. Sam Jackson came in to play left guard and I went over to right tackle. Chavis (Dickey), Jordan (Johnson) and Aaron (Evans), everybody, we all kind of worked as a unit. We mesh together really well. Even when Wyatt went out, it was good to see. It was nice to run the ball how we did."

Added Scott Frost: "I was thrilled that we essentially played two o-linemen in spots they weren't used to playing and still had some success.. We had a new right tackle and a freshman left guard and still had a lot of success running the ball and protecting. That's a good sign."

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Brown's journey to UCF was not your typical one. A native of Encinitas, Calif., and Class of 2014 graduate of La Costa Canyon High School near San Diego, Brown's recruiting prospects all but dried up when he suffered a broken back and torn hamstring during his senior year. He took the following year off while continuing the recover from his injury, then spent the following spring seeing if any colleges might be interested.

"I lost my scholarships (after my injuries)," Brown said. "I took a year off. I wasn't in college at all. I was working for my family, learning the family business. I was working out, seeing if somebody else would offer me. (Class of 2015 UCF signee) Luke Hiers got hurt, so (then offensive line coach Allen Mogridge) called up me said, 'I like your tape. I want you to come up for a visit.' So I did and I committed. That's how I got here."

Brown is considered a member of UCF's 2015 recruiting class, though his inclusion flew mostly under the radar since the addition occurred after National Signing Day. He enrolled for summer school and redshirted his first season. Being so far away from home was tough, but Brown said Frost's arrival was like a rejuvenation.

"In high school, we were spread," Brown said. "We ran the read option and all that, so I already knew what was going on. Most of the calls were similar from my high school. It was a little weird coming into UCF because we ran like a pro-style offense with O'Leary. That was a little difficult for me to adjust, always being in a three-point, trying to get down. Coach Frost came in and switched it all up. I was loving it."

He really enjoys having Austin as his position coach too.

"I love Coach G," Brown said. "Coach G is my favorite coach of all-time. He works you hard, but he always rewards you. He always tell you what you're doing right. He'll never get on you if you're trying your best. He's never going to yell at you for messing up if you give him 100 percent every time, which is great."

Brown earned a two-deep spot as a redshirt freshman in 2016, appearing in six games. He was elevated to starter status following this year's camp, playing left guard.

It's unclear how long Miller may be out, so he may be starting at right tackle come Saturday against Cincinnati. That will be the first game UCF will play as a ranked team, something Brown said they're not really thinking about.

"We're just trying to work our hardest, trying to take a new step every day," Brown said. "Just build on what we've been doing. Keep progressing in the right way."


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