It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

By Kyle Rowland on September 12, 2012 at 10:00a

Ohio State has a problem. In just the third game of the season, the third-string running back, a true freshman, has already been thrust into the leading role. Bri’onte Dunn finds himself in that position because injuries galore have hampered the Buckeyes. 

A common sight: no one near Corey Brown. 

If someone else goes down, Corey “Philly” Brown may start lobbying the coaches for carries. Or more so that he already does. Brown came to Ohio State as a sought-after recruit from the suburbs of Philadelphia – hence the nickname – where he was a two-time 1,000-yard rusher.

Things changed when he arrived in Columbus. There would be no backfield running and no patrolling the secondary. Instead, Brown was inserted into the wide receiving corps. 

“I actually thought I was going to come here for corner,” Brown said. “But when I got here they had me in the receivers room. I was sad. I’ll be honest. But I realized I was too skinny (to be a running back).”

It has proven to be the correct decision by former head coach Jim Tressel and the previous coaching staff. One season removed from an embarrassing team-high tying 14 receptions, Brown has distinguished himself as the team’s No. 1 receiver and the obvious big-play threat Urban Meyer has coveted.

The skills have always been there for Brown to be a gamebreaker, but the opportunity really didn’t arise until Jordan Hall went down with a foot injury prior to the start of the season.

“We are thinking outside the box a little bit to get him more involved,” Meyer said of Brown.

In the season-opening win over Miami (Ohio), Brown had seven catches. It was a good debut, especially in light of the lack of production at receiver a season ago. Then he had six catches in Week 2 and 81 total yards. That performance led to an offensive player of the game award and praise from Meyer.

“(He) graded out 95 percent, which is extremely high for a wide receiver, and he's right now our best playmaker on offense,” Meyer said.

Through two games, Brown already has 13 receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown. He also has two rushes for 33 yards. His 168 total yards of offense is second on the team to quarterback Braxton Miller’s otherworldly output.

In the offseason, Miller and his receivers worked together daily, building a strong rapport in the process. When fall camp rolled along, the wideouts made a statement. They entered camp with a bull’s eye the size of Texas on their backs after Meyer insulted them with comments that were a harsh truth during the spring.

Braxton Miller and Corey Brown are always on the same page.

Brown and his cohorts took a lunch pail approach, coming to work each day with little flair, but working hard, handling their business and making a statement. 

“I feel like now we have more of that cocky confidence that you need to be a good player,” Brown said. “Obviously, we’ve grown to have more confidence. Coach (Tom) Herman is calling more plays our way and building our confidence. Working in the offseason, we could feel ourselves get better and better.”

The winter and spring also was used as a time of reflection for Brown. After being recruited by a number of prominent schools, he chose Ohio State to make an impact and be involved in a program that was experiencing yearly success. But Brown’s first two seasons in Columbus were mired by controversy, and 2011’s losing record and lackluster statistics wore on him. Now he believes he has grown as a person, leading to more production.

“I really think it’s the system and growth and maturity,” Brown said. “I had to take a long look at myself in the mirror. Obviously, my first two seasons here weren’t very good. So I took a long look in the mirror and said, ‘If this is what I want to do for the rest of my life I have to get going.’ It is about growing up, being a leader and putting in the work to be a good receiver.”

With a year’s experience as a starter, Brown is more comfortable in his role as an on-field voice. He’s also developed a bond with Miller. Learning each other’s tendencies has led to more cohesion once they step on to the field.

It’s a characteristic that all great quarterback-to-wide receiver partnerships acquire. Montana and Rice, Aikman and Irvin, Manning and Harrison.

“The terminology is completely different,” Brown said “Having a whole year playing with Braxton, we are on the same page. He’ll tell me what to do on a certain play with our own personal signals. We’re rolling pretty good now, and we just want to keep it going.

“Braxton and I talk on the field. After the plays, I don’t care about the play clock. We’re talking the whole time. If you’re watching, you can see. He’s telling me what he saw, I’m telling him what I saw. We tell each other what we want to do different, so next time we are on the same page. It’s helping us grow.”

The absence of Hall and Carlos Hyde could lead to more creativity from the coaching staff, and Brown is just fine with that. His two rushes, a swing pass and a reverse, came after Hyde’s injury in Saturday’s 31-16 win over Central Florida.

“I hope that they use me in that way,” Brown said about catching passes in the backfield. “I’m excited to take that role on if they’re serious about it. I really hope they do that.

“I always want to run the ball. I joke around with the running backs that I could play running back. For it to happen would be real good.”

Embracing the nickname? Brown says no. 

Because of his size – 6-foot, 186 pounds – Brown isn’t a run-between-the-tackles type of runner. Getting the ball in space and getting around the edge is more his style.

“I am playing a lot of different positions right now,” he said. “I am still trying to learn and step in until Jordan gets back.”

After hearing running backs coach Stan Drayton assess the situation in the backfield, it sounds like the Buckeyes will try to take advantage of mismatches. That’s a central theme of Meyer’s philosophy: get guys in space against a defender who’s at a disadvantage, whether it’s a running back against a linebacker or receiver matched up against one defensive back.

“Sometimes you just try to gather info about the defense, Drayton said. “It's not always about (Brown) getting the ball. But you motion a guy like that into the backfield and the defense makes adjustments that we can gather information for upcoming plays.

“The fact that he’s being very productive for us allows us to do more things creatively, formationally, to be able to help us out.”

In two games so far, Miller has carried the ball considerably more than he and Meyer would like. The trust and reliability Miller’s built with receivers could go a long way in changing that. Running the quarterback 20 some-odd times won’t work against Michigan State, Wisconsin and Michigan like it does against Miami, UCF and Alabama-Birmingham. And according to Brown, that will change.

“We’ve done a lot of passing so far, but I don’t think we’ve come close to how much passing we’ll do in a single game once we get going,” he said.

Now, about that nickname. Coaches, players, fans and the media have all grasped on to the Philly moniker. But the man himself is not fond of it, despite his Twitter handle (@PhillyBrown10) and the fact he was wearing a shirt with “Philly” across the chest and a buckeye leaf on the “P.”

“All the other Corey Browns were taken,” he said. “It was Twitter’s decision.”

Interestingly, that’s how the Philly nickname came about. Tressel started using it to differentiate him from the defensive back with the same name. The “other” Corey Brown hails from the western part of the state, so he is Pittsburgh.

But alas, Corey “Philly” Brown said, “I’m Corey Brown.”

Meyer and Miller don’t care what they have to call him, as long as he keeps catching passes and producing yards.


Comments Show All Comments

Baroclinicity's picture

This is going to be a hard habit to break.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

cinserious's picture

"whether it’s a running back against a tight end " Why would this happen?

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

ceegeelawrence's picture

That's what I was wondering ha

bassplayer7770's picture

Because they always have to be competing!  Even against each other!  hehe

Kyle Rowland's picture

Fixed. Should have said linebacker. 

johnny11's picture

I like that Mr. Brown will be used in an expanded roll possibly this week, but I really think Dunn or smith is really gonna have to carry the load this week to truly show this offenses potential. Urban has said many times this is a power spread and not a finesse type offense. Because of lack of production other than week 1 and braxton making some wrong reads we really havent seen that yet. I think we need a running back really start to establish themselves as our force between the tackles or when we get into our big ten slate defenses will be able to render us one dimensional. This also will help with our pass game because the play action and getting more passes downfield for big plays if the defense is worried by opne of our tailbacks making a big play between the tackles. This is just my opinion though i could be wrong.

klfeck's picture

Maybe Tress didn't make the right decision. How good could Corey have been at corner?



Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

thorvath22's picture

I trust Tressel's evaluation of given the talent we have at corner now I would say he made the right decision.

spqr2008's picture

Plus, if Tress had him at corner, and the other Corey Brown at Safety, put similar looking numbers on them, and switch them up to confuse the quarterback and coaches of the other team.

Dougger's picture

haha nice. wow that would be a mind job for the opposing staff

I like football

gwalther's picture

Disagree with this article, and with Urban, on this:
I think Devin Smith is clearly our most talented, and best, wide receiver. Best hands, most explosive, best moves after the catch.

Class of 2008

bassplayer7770's picture

I think Philly has had good hands so far this season.  I recall Devin dropping a pretty key pass last week.  It was also a pass I felt he had a good chance of making a big play on, and I know he wanted that one back.

gwalther's picture

The official was between him and the ball on a slant. That is one of THE HARDEST catches to make. You don't see the ball until literally the last second, and it feels like it popped out of nowhere. Smith gets a pass on that one. If there was another "drop," I certainly did not see it.

Class of 2008

Squirrel Master's picture

I think all the starting receivers have done well so far. Smith is making unreal catches and Philly (yep, I am sticking with it. Nicknames make players money!) is doing everything to help this team move the ball. Stoney could be used more but at the same time, gotta get Braxton to see that you are open to get the ball.
I really think this offense is in its infancy and will really become a weapon by seasons end. All these guys are putting in the work and can make plays, just gotta practice to make it perfect! 2 games in is not enough.
I also love that Philly is a junior and Smith is a sophomore. Next year is going to be amazing!

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

Buckeyejason's picture

I'm glad Corey is starting to shine..always knew he had talent.
If he's 6' tall then John Simon is 6'6" lol.


chitown buckeye's picture

Not sure why someone would hate the nickname "philly"? It was given to you by a coach that wasnt very flamboyant. I would think that would be an honor? I know some hate nicknames, but most people that hate their nickname is because it is something emabarrassing. Being called Philly Brown is not emabarrasing. Its actually very cool and the fact the media and fanbase like it and has caught on makes it even cooler. Not sure the reason behind trying to seperate from the name?

"I'm having a heart attack!"

buck-I.8's picture

It's not very imaginitive. You could call me "akron", but it would be a bit of a cop out. Plus he and Corey Brown(2) only got their nicknames because there are two of them.