The hiring of Thomas Brown as South Carolina’s running backs coach allows him and Bryan McClendon to reunite at least part of a group that spent a lot of time together at the University of Georgia.
“They had a group; it was like four or five of them. You’d always see them together,” said SEC Network analyst D.J. Shockley, who was a teammate of both Brown and McClendon with the Bulldogs. “They had a name for themselves. I’ll let you ask them that, and that’ll be pretty fun.”
Asking Brown, 32, or McClendon about their relationship will have to wait because Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp traditionally only allows his assistant coaches to speak to the media twice a year. Brown became one of those coaches Wednesday when the USC Board of Trustees approved his hiring.
“I think the chance to be with BMac is the big reason he went there,” Shockley said. “I think that’s something that they will look back on as they get older and say, ‘This is something pretty special to do.’ ”
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Brown and McClendon were teammates at Georgia in 2004 and 2005, during which time the Bulldogs won the 2005 SEC Championship. Brown left Georgia as the school’s fifth-leading rusher all-time.
“As a teammate, he (was) the ultimate guy you wanted to play with,” Shockley said. “Probably one of the best competitors I have been around, and easily he was one of the strongest guys on our team pound for pound, not just physically but mentally as well.”
Bryan Lamar — the head coach at Tucker High School in Atlanta, where Brown played high school football — also remembers Brown’s physical strength.
“He wasn’t the biggest running back to play here, but he was fast and he was pound-for-pound one of the strongest guys ever to come through here or play at Georgia,” Lamar said. “A lot of that is his character and how hard he worked as an individual. You never could outwork him as a player, and I would think it would be very hard to outwork him as a coach.”
Brown recruited Tucker for Georgia and Miami, where he worked prior to coming to South Carolina. He also coached at Wisconsin and Marshall, and he has coached current NFL running backs Melvin Gordon, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb.
“His background with all the running backs he’s had has been well documented,” Shockley said. “Him as a coach is a direct result of how he played, and players can respect it because he can turn on tape and show them.”
Brown rushed for 2,646 yards and 23 touchdowns in four years at Georgia.
“He’s always liked by all his teammates,” Shockley said. “He was always smiling and laughing and played with a toughness.”