Richie Brown went through a lot of changes in 2015, both on and off the field.
In his football life, Brown assumed the role as Mississippi State’s starting middle linebacker. At home, he assumed the role of husband as he and longtime girlfriend, former Bulldog softball player Erin Nesbit, tied the knot on May 15.
“Getting married was definitely a huge blessing,” Brown said. “It’s grounded me a lot. I have a partner now who helps me with day-to-day stuff. If I need something done and don’t have the time to do it on my own, I can ask her to help me out.”
On the field, Brown had some big shoes to fill. The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder had to replace Benardrick McKinney, who left a year early for the NFL. Brown started every game for the Bulldogs and led the team with 109 tackles, 38 more than McKinney made the previous year. He also topped the team with 6.5 sacks and finished with 13 tackles for loss and an interception.
“It was definitely a lot different,” Brown said. “There was a lot more playing time and more opportunities to make plays. It’s been a big change but I’ve enjoyed it a lot getting those opportunities.”
By making triple digit stops, Brown achieved one of his personal goals last fall. He had made 88 tackles through 26 games during his first two years serving as McKinney’s back-up and it was only natural for that number to increase along with his playing time.
“I was expecting it and my goal was to get over 100 tackles this year,” Brown said. “That was an underneath the radar goal, one that I had set. It was a blessing and something I worked hard for. I tried not to focus on it game-by-game but it came after focusing on what I was supposed to each game.”
But tackling is something that Brown has longsince been known for. The former Long Beach High School standout racked up 522 stops during his final three seasons including 209 as a senior.
“In high school it was more athletic ability and nose for the ball, basically just running to the ball,” Brown said. “In college it’s more game preparation. Tackles in college are a little different because you have to watch game film and know what’s coming beforehand if you’re going to make the tackle.”
Brown is back preparing for his senior year and second as a starter. He has already underwent another change as linebackers coach and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz left for Miami and will work under Peter Sirmon starting this spring.
Is it possible for Brown to see another change in 2016 such as a little Richie running around?
“We’re going to let the Lord control that one,” Brown said. “That will be up to Him. We’ll see.”