Patience pays off for Michigan tailback Carlos Brown
Carlos Brown arrived at Michigan in 2006 as a talented tailback hoping to become a household name in a program that has produced its share of NFL talent.
When he didn't find himself playing as much as he hoped, Brown prepared to move to greener backfields.
But just when Brown thought he had made up his mind, Lloyd Carr's voice kept creeping into his head. And the same message kept rising to the surface.
Brown and Carr had talked on multiple occasions about patience - a trait Brown has never mastered. Carr often reminded Brown he wasn't the first player to come to Michigan looking for instant statistical gratification.
Brown elected to stay, hoping his decision would pay off in the long run.
"I saw that it was about just more than me," Brown said Monday.
Two years ago, he made his first appearance as a spot starter when Mike Hart was injured. When an injury kept Brandon Minor out of last week's 31-7 victory over Western Michigan, Brown again started at tailback.
Brown rushed for 54 yards on 10 carries Saturday. He also demonstrated pass-protecting ability, allowing freshmen quarterbacks Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson to succeed in their inaugural outings.
For a running back who once believed success came through individual production, learning to become a more complete player had helped Brown's stock rise.
"He made some nice runs," Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said Monday. "There were a few missed reads, but we thought he ran well, he caught the ball well and he protected well.
"He's worked really hard on protection and blocking and you could see the difference with Carlos and our other backs."
With Minor still on the mend, Brown senses he'll keep getting opportunities to show how far he has come since he elected to stay at Michigan. Like with any opportunity, Brown keeps everything in perspective.
"There's always something you can improve on," Brown said. "There's a lot of times you look back and say, 'I wish I could change that', but you can't.
"I just want to play better than I did last week and I just want to be able to contribute to my team and do anything possible that's going to help us win this weekend."
In an offense full of big-play producers, Brown has learned over time to be content with the chances he is given. The change of perspective hasn't come overnight, but through patience, it has rewarded Brown for his decision to stay.
"As long as the offense is clicking, I'm happy," Brown said. "If I get one carry or I get 20 carries, as long as the offense is doing good and we're putting points up on the board, then I'm happy."
Jeff Arnold covers sports for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at 734-623-2554 or firstname.lastname@example.org