Veteran college assistant Ron Brown rejoined the Nebraska coaching staff in 2008. Brown is in his fourth year as running backs coach in 2014, after coaching tight ends the three previous seasons. Overall, the 2014 season will be Brown's 24th year as a Husker assistant coach, after serving on the NU staff for 17 seasons from 1987 to 2003.
Brown's running backs helped Nebraska rank eighth nationally in rushing offense (253.4 yards per game) in 2012. Preseason All-American Rex Burkhead missed much of the season with a knee injury, and carried the ball only 98 times, but managed 675 yards and 6.9 yards per carry. Without his top running back, Brown tweaked his I-back rotation to help the Huskers again rank among the nation's rushing leaders.
Abdullah rushed for 1,137 yards on 226 carries as a sophomore, and his rushing total was the sixth-highest ever by a Husker sophomore. Abdullah produced six 100-yard rushing efforts this season, including 100-yard performances in each of his first five career starts, the longest such streak by a Husker since 1993. A second-team All-Big Ten selection, Abdullah also caught 24 passes for 178 yards, while accounting for 11 total touchdowns, including eight on the ground.
Cross also flourished as a true freshman under Brown's direction, producing a 100-yard game against Idaho State, while scoring seven touchdowns.In 2011, Brown helped Nebraska rank 15th nationally in rushing and was a nominee for the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach. All-Big Ten back Rex Burkhead led the Huskers’ prolific rushing attack, ranking 19th in the nation with 104.2 rushing yards per game. Burkhead posted seven 100-yard rushing games, and finished with 1,357 rushing yards for the seventh-best rushing total in school history and the highest total by a Husker I-back since 1997.
Burkhead reached 1,000 yards rushing in only 10 games, becoming the first Husker I-back to accomplish that feat since 2001. Burkhead has also had a knack for finding the end zone, scoring 17 touchdowns, including 15 on the ground, and finished in a tie for 40th nationally in scoring. Burkhead set a school record by scoring a touchdown in each of the first 10 games in 2011 and tied the overall Nebraska record by scoring a touchdown in 10 consecutive games.
Working with the tight ends in 2010, Brown’s unit was a valuable asset in both the passing and running games. In the passing game, Kyler Reed emerged as a playmaker, catching 22 passes for 395 yards and a Nebraska tight end record eight touchdown grabs. Reed’s 79-yard touchdown reception at Kansas State was Nebraska’s longest pass play since 2002. Led by Ben Cotton, Brown’s tight ends were also a key cog in Nebraska’s rushing attack, which led the Big 12 and ranked ninth nationally in rushing.
In 2009, Brown’s tight ends combined for 46 catches, 442 yards and six touchdowns. Five different tight ends caught a pass, while tight ends grabbed six of Nebraska’s 18 touchdown catches on the season.
Mike McNeill enjoyed his second straight strong season under Brown’s tutelage. McNeill tied for the team lead with four touchdown catches, while ranking second with 26 catches and third with 259 receiving yards. He was a second-team AP All-Big 12 selection in 2009.
In 2008, Brown assisted with an NU offense that finished 12th nationally in total offense. McNeill set an NU tight end season record with 32 receptions, including six touchdown grabs. Fellow sophomore tight end Dreu Young averaged a team-leading 15.6 yards per catch while sharing time with McNeill.
Brown served as receivers coach for his entire first tenure with the Huskers and also tutored the tight ends during his first 17 seasons on the NU staff. The blocking of Brown’s wide receivers played a key role in Nebraska’s nine NCAA rushing titles.
Brown is nationally respected for his ability as an intense teacher on the field. The NU receivers under Brown were long known for their tenacity and downfield blocking. Despite featuring a run-based attack from 1987 to 2003, Brown’s receivers and tight ends also made their mark in the passing game, leading the Big 12 in touchdown receptions three times.
Brown joined Osborne’s staff for his first tenure at NU after four years of coaching at Brown University in Providence, R.I., from 1983 to 1986. Brown’s first season was as the school’s head freshman coach, and he then spent three seasons as defensive backfield coach. Brown also served as assistant to the athletic director in 1986.
Twenty-seven of Brown’s former pupils have gone on to professional careers, including tight end Johnny Mitchell, the New York Jets’ first-round pick in 1992; Tyrone Hughes, the two-time Pro Bowl selection with the New Orleans Saints; and tight end Sheldon Jackson, a 1999 draft pick of the Buffalo Bills. Brown has coached 39 academic all-conference players and three CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, including Burkhead in 2011.
Brown was a two-time first-team All-Ivy League performer as a defensive back. He was selected to Brown’s All-Century team and the school’s Sports Hall of Fame. Brown signed with three NFL teams as a free agent from 1979 to 1981.
Brown received his bachelor’s degree from Brown in 1979, then earned his master’s degree in public health from Columbia University in 1982. He began his coaching career as a defensive coordinator for the semipro New Jersey Rams in 1982, before moving to his alma mater in 1983.
Off the field, Brown and former Husker Stan Parker are co-founders and co-directors of a statewide Christian ministry called Mission Nebraska. This ministry stewards MY BRIDGE RADIO, which consists of numerous Christian radio stations and translators across Nebraska. Mission Nebraska also facilitates a statewide Christian ministry called FreedMen Nebraska, which challenges and inspires men and boys to take a strong courageous Christian stand in the public square.
Through FreedMen Nebraska, Brown also hosts a weekly statewide cable TV show called “Truth Vision”, along with daily radio spots. The 55-year-old Brown spent the four years prior to his return to coaching serving as the Nebraska State Director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. While he relinquished that duty to return to the Cornhuskers, he continues as a regular columnist for FCA’s National Magazine “Sharing the Victory.”
During his time away from coaching, Brown also worked as an internet, television and radio college and high school analyst for ESPN and Sports Spectrum.
He has authored several books on Christian character and growth. He is an outspoken advocate on many issues, including adoption, abstinence and drug and alcohol education, race relations and anti-pornography, to name a few.
Brown is married to Molvina Carter and they have two daughters, Sojourner Elaine and Bronwyn Pearl.
The Brown File
Date and Place of Birth:Nov. 28, 1956, New York City, N.Y.
Family: Wife, Molvina Carter; Daughters, Sojourner Elaine and Bronwyn Pearl
Education: Bachelor of arts in sociology, Brown University, 1979; master's degree in public health administration, Columbia University, 1982
Playing Experience: 1975-78, Brown University
Coaching Experience: 1982, New Jersey Rams Assistant Coach (defensive coordinator); 1983, Brown University Head Freshman Coach; 1984-86, Brown University Assistant Coach (defensive backs); 1987-2002, Nebraska Assistant Coach (wide receivers/tight ends); 2003, Nebraska Assistant Coach (wide receivers); 2008-10, Nebraska Assistant Coach (tight ends); 2011-present, Nebraska Assistant Coach (running backs)