As an assistant coach at Texas Tech several years ago, Darrin Chiaverini watched Tony Brown light up opposing defenses as a four-star recruit from La Mirada (Calif.) High School.
Chiaverini liked Brown, and the feeling was mutual, as Brown signed a letter of intent with Tech in 2015.
“I knew he was special when I signed him at Texas Tech,” Chiaverini, now Colorado’s receivers coach, said.
Several years and one transfer later, Brown is proving to be special again.
Last Saturday in Colorado’s 34-31 upset of then-No. 24 Arizona State, Brown caught nine passes for 150 yards and three touchdowns – all career highs – for the Buffs. He tied the school record for touchdown catches in a game, becoming the fifth player in CU history with three.
“I have high expectations for myself to play that role and just do my job,” he said following the game. “I expect this for myself, just playing that role. And, not just me, but all the receivers.”
Leading that receiver group is Laviska Shenault, the all-world junior who is considered one of the best players in the country and a potential top-10 NFL draft choice next spring.
Yet, it’s been Brown who has been the steady presence at the position for the Buffaloes (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12), who have a bye this week.
To open the season, Colorado State and Nebraska focused in on Shenault and limited his production. Shenault had a big game against Air Force, but then left with an injury early against Arizona State.
Four games into the season, it’s Brown who leads the Buffs in catches (20), receiving yards (301) and touchdowns (four).
“Tony Brown just keeps making plays,” head coach Mel Tucker said. “He was making plays in fall camp. Every time his number’s called, he comes through in the clutch. That’s the story of our team, you know, guys stepping up, players stepping up, when their number’s called to get the job done.
“We have a very unselfish football team. Guys play for each other. But it’s great when you see your older players, your seniors, leading by example, making plays. It just makes for good culture.”
For Brown, it’s been a long journey to this point.
He played his first two seasons (2015-16) at Texas Tech, hauling in a total of 27 passes for 378 yards and one touchdown.
Chiaverini left the Red Raiders after 2015, however, and came to CU as co-offensive coordinator. Brown saw more of an opportunity in Boulder and transferred in 2017. He had to sit out that season because of the NCAA transfer rule, but has been a steady producer ever since.
Last year, Brown caught 32 passes for 333 yards and one touchdown.
This year, Chiaverini said, Brown has taken his work ethic to a new level and has a better understanding of how to prepare for games. It’s paying off.
“Oh man, he’s just extremely talented, just a super hard working guy,” quarterback Steven Montez said. “He’s worked his butt off, just worked for his time. And now he’s starting to get touches and he’s starting to show everybody why he’s such a dynamic player. So I’m very, very excited for Tony; very happy for Tony. And I hope to see him do this all year.”
With a bye this week, CU was off Sunday and Monday. The Buffs will resume practice on Tuesday. … The Pac-12 announced Monday that the Buffs’ Oct. 5 game against Arizona will kick off at 2:30 p.m. from Folsom Field. It will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network. … Last Saturday was Brown’s second career 100-yard game and his first with the Buffs. He had 117 yards in a loss to Baylor in 2015, his freshman year.