Stevie Brown remembers what happened against Appalachian State.
In his first career start, the then-sophomore free safety and the rest of the Michigan secondary got lit up for three touchdowns and 249 passing yards.
And that was just the first half.
Although Brown played in the rest of Michigan’s games last season, he never regained his starting spot. With limited playing time, Brown considered transferring.
“I know I’m playing well in practice,” Brown recalled in June. “And I was like, ‘I don’t see why I should be out here if coaches are going to lie to me,’ things like that. I mean, that’s what I was thinking. They really weren’t lying to me. I just wasn’t doing as well as I thought I was doing.”
But after a lot of thought and consultation with his family, Brown decided to stick with Michigan. This year, he’s getting his second chance.
Brown was back in a starting role for Michigan against Utah.
In the first half, the Utes hit a post on third and long over the middle, a play on which Brown was a step late. Brown knew exactly what fans were saying.
“Everybody was probably thinking, it’s App State all over again,” Brown said. “But, after that play, I just shook it off. I was like, ‘this ain’t happening no more.’ “
Since the first half against Utah, Brown’s improvement has been noticeable, but he still has room to improve.
“Stevie, he’s played some, but for a veteran guy, he doesn’t have a whole lot of experience,” Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said. “It’s just the recognition of some things that probably is the biggest thing for him, as any guy that’s really playing for the first time extensively has to have.”
In the hopes of gaining that recognition, Brown has recommitted himself to film study, though he prefers the hands-on work of practice.
“You can watch a lot of film, you can tell that it’s faster than high school,” Brown said. “You can watch on the sideline and tell that everybody is moving a lot faster. But until you actually get in the game, you don’t realize how quick everything happens.”
Brown appeared to be catching up to game speed against Miami (Ohio) and nearly had an interception in the second quarter. The pass was tipped and sailed right toward him — but Brown dropped it.
On Monday, he admitted to thinking ahead on his potential pick-six, instead of watching the ball into his hands.
Despite the disappointment of a missed opportunity, Brown knows more chances will come. He’s hoping they’ll come this weekend.
Having grown up in Columbus, Ind., many of Brown’s childhood friends are Notre Dame fans and his final college decision came down to the Wolverines or the Fighting Irish.
With the anticipation of a rivalry game and Brown’s connection to Notre Dame, the stage appears to be set for a breakout game — and maybe even that interception return he missed out on last week.
But when his highlight-reel moment comes, Brown isn’t looking for a bandwagon.
“If they jump on board because I have a touchdown return, they’re not really true fans anyways,” Brown said. “I like the people who have been there with me since App. State.”