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CU Buffs Hall of Fame profile: Chris Brown had memorable run in Boulder

Colorado's Chris Brown ran for 198 yard and six touchdowns for the Buffs in a 62-36 win against Nebraska on Nov. 23, 2001. Brown is a member of the 2021 CU Athletic Hall of Fame class.
Paul Aiken/ Staff Photographer
Colorado’s Chris Brown ran for 198 yard and six touchdowns for the Buffs in a 62-36 win against Nebraska on Nov. 23, 2001. Brown is a member of the 2021 CU Athletic Hall of Fame class.

Nearly two decades after the fact, Chris Brown still hears about one moment of his career at Colorado more than any other.

CU’s 62-36 thrashing of No. 2-ranked Nebraska on Nov. 23, 2001, is one of the most satisfying wins in Buffs’ history and it was Brown leading the charge. That night, the star running back scored six touchdowns — still a school record — in the rout of the hated Cornhuskers.

“Everybody thinks about that one, no doubt about it,” said Brown, who had 198 rushing yards and scored three of his touchdowns in the fourth quarter to put the game away. “That was just such a big game. … It meant so much to a lot of people.”

Brown’s stellar CU career was much more than that remarkable game, however, and this year he is one of nine members of the CU Athletic Hall of Fame 2021 class. The class will be inducted during a ceremony the first week of November.

“It completely caught me off guard,” Brown said of receiving the Hall of Fame call from CU athletic director Rick George. “I wasn’t expecting that. To hear that come out of his mouth, I was very surprised.”

To those who saw Brown play, however, it wasn’t much of a surprise.

Brown played only two seasons at CU (2001-02), but he ranks seventh in program history in career rushing yards (2,690) and fourth in total touchdowns (34).

University of Colorado Athletics
Colorado running back Chris Brown during the Buffs’ win in the 2001 Big 12 title game against Texas

After rushing for 946 yards in 2001, Brown had 1,744 yards in 2002. Only Rashaan Salaam, with 2,055 yards during his 1994 Heisman Trophy-winning season, rushed for more yards in a season than Brown did in 2002.

In 2002, Brown earned All-American honors was runner-up for the Doak Walker Award, which is presented to the nation’s top running back, and was named Big 12 offensive player of the year.

“Oh, man, it was a blast,” he said of playing at CU. “I enjoyed every minute. I think we all had fun. The teams I played on were just unbelievable. We all had fun and we played well together.”

In addition to the Nebraska game in 2001, Brown’s career included 309 yards at Kansas in 2002 (one of only four 300-yard games at CU); a 211-yard, three-TD performance at Missouri in 2002; and his personal favorite: 182 yards and three TDs in a 39-37 win against Texas in the 2001 Big 12 title game just one week after the Buffs beat Nebraska.

“It meant so much to win the only Big 12 championship in Colorado history,” he said.

More than anything else, however, what Brown liked was the teams he played with in Boulder.

Recruited to Northwestern by Gary Barnett, Brown didn’t get to play for him there. Barnett took the head coaching job at CU after the 1998 season. Brown played one year at Northwestern and went through training camp in 2000, but didn’t want to stay. He went to Fort Scott (Kansas) Community College for a season before finally playing for Barnett in 2001 and 2002.

“All I asked is if I could get a shot to play running back,” Brown said. “That’s all I wanted and (Barnett) told me, ‘Yeah,’ and I’m like, ‘I’m coming then.’ That’s all I need to hear.”

Brown helped the Buffs go 19-8 with two Big 12 North division titles during his two seasons.

“Both sides of the ball, we made each other better,” Brown said. “That defense we had … training camp was tough on me. They definitely made it tough and that’s what made the games fun.

“We were so hard on each other during training camp that we were prepared for a lot during the season. You’re gonna have ups and downs, and we fought through it.”

Brown skipped his final year of eligibility to enter the 2003 NFL Draft and he was selected in the third round by the Tennessee Titans. He played seven seasons in the NFL, including one season with the Houston Texans, rushing for 3,024 yards and 19 touchdowns.

“I beat the average. I played seven years,” he said. “I was very, very blessed to last that long. It had some ups and downs like a lot of people’s careers, but I wouldn’t change anything for the world.”

Brown, 40, lives in Houston with his wife and three children and is enjoying life as a father. He’s also looking forward to the Hall of Fame ceremony in November, seeing the Buffs’ new facilities up close and reliving some memories of his time as a CU student-athlete.

“I enjoyed my time there, no doubt about it,” he said. “I can’t wait to come back to campus and see everything.”

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