Tony Brown isn’t going to complain to quarterback Steven Montez about needing more balls thrown his way, or bemoan his role in the offense to receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini. That same mindset is why Colorado fans also won’t hear Brown tooting his own horn on the occasions he steps up and makes big plays for the Buffaloes.
In good times and bad, the soft-spoken Brown prefers to let his game do his talking.
Still, as Brown tackles his final preseason in Boulder with his usual businesslike approach, he also does so as the only senior among a wide receiver corps with tantalizing big-play potential. Laviska Shenault is the CU receiver most likely to make big plays on Sundays in the near future, yet Brown isn’t letting his quiet nature get in the way of his expanded leadership role for the Buffs’ receivers.
“I pretty much show by example, especially with me being the oldest out there,” Brown said. “I’m getting to teach the younger guys what to do and what not to do. I’m not really verbal a lot, but this year I felt like I needed to step up a lot, big time. I’m communicating a lot more and really just showing by example.”
It is perhaps easy to overlook the small yet potentially pivotal role Brown will play in the Buffs’ offense.
Shenault and KD Nixon are the recognizable threats, with the Buffs also hoping some, if not all, the pass-catchers amongst a group of up-and-comers including Daniel Arias, Dimitri Stanley, and Jaylon Jackson enjoys a breakout season.
In between them all is Brown. Last year, Brown ranked third on the team in receptions (32) and receiving yards (333), trailing Shenault and Nixon. Brown isn’t likely to ever draw the same defensive attention as Shenault, and he will be hard-pressed to match Nixon’s team-leading average of 12.2 yards per reception, but the 6-foot-1 Brown nonetheless boasts the ability to find open space if those primary targets are covered.
“He’s more of a leader by example,” Chiaverini said. “He’s going to do things the right way. He’s going to make plays. He’s not going to have mental mistakes. He knows the offense. He knows the fundamentals and techniques we expect from him and our group. And he goes out and plays at a high level.
“He’s going to be a guy that’s heavily counted-on this year. It can’t just be two or three guys. You’ve got to be six, seven, eight deep in college football to be an elite receiving corps. And I think we are seven or eight deep. That’s why recruiting is so important. Because you’ve got to have more than just a couple guys.”
Chiaverini has known Brown for roughly seven years, dating back to when the Buffs’ senior receiver was a high school prospect playing for former Buffs quarterback — and Chiaverini’s CU teammate — Mike Moschetti. Brown originally committed to Texas Tech in large part due to Chiaverini’s influence, and after catching 27 passes for 378 yards and a touchdown in two seasons with the Red Raiders, Brown ultimately decided to follow Chiaverini to Boulder.
Brown has had a well-traveled collegiate career and has enjoyed a few big moments on mediocre teams, with the three squads for which Brown has played an active role — 2015 and 2016 at Texas Tech, and the Buffs last year — going a combined 17-20. That has left just one thing on Brown’s senior year to-do list.
“Just wins. I want to win games,” Brown said. “Last year didn’t go too well, but just winning games is our things. I don’t really have a personal, but as a whole I just want to win games.”