Sammy Brown is like a lot of students at UH. He transferred from another school, got his act together and is now one step closer to realizing his professional dreams.
After leading the nation in tackles-for-a-loss as a senior, Brown signed with the St. Louis Rams on Saturday.
“I never doubted myself,” Brown said. “I knew I wanted to go pro since Pee Wee football.”
Brown’s road to the NFL has not always been the smoothest, but he has overcome all of the obstacles and now has a chance to win a spot on the Rams’ roster.
In high school, Brown lost his mother and lived with his aunt, who he credits as one of his major inspirations.
Brown didn’t take the SAT or ACT in high school and opted to go to junior college at Mississippi Gulf Coast.
He excelled there on the football field and drew offers from several schools. UH was his first recruiting visit and his first time to fly on a plane.
“For my first football visit here, that was my first plane trip,” Brown said in November. “I was like, ‘I’m not going on any more football visits.’
“I’m still scared.”
Brown admits that he didn’t come to UH in shape and that he broke a lot of plays in his first season, but in the season leading up to his senior season, Brown grew by leaps and bounds.
“When I first came up, the coaches said I wasn’t lifting hard or wasn’t lifting properly, so they used to always get onto me,” he said. “This year I got a different workout partner. This year I started working out with George (Bamfo) and Phillip (Steward), and they pushed me and I got stronger and faster.”
Brown’s change in attitude and maturity was noticable in senior year.
“I wish I could take credit for it,” former UH defensive coordinator Brian Stewart said in November. “He just came in this summer and pushed himself. He finally got past that wall, that wall where he’d say, ‘I’m tired.’ When you can push yourself past that wall, he finally got past that. And then, now busts his tail so much now that he gets on other people for not running to the ball. He wouldn’t have said anything last year.
“It looked like sometimes last year, he was so undisciplined that if the play broke out that way, he might as well have just grabbed a Coke and sat down because he wasn’t going to chase the ball unless he thought he could get the guy.”
Brown’s work ethic carried over beyond the football field as well.
“Once he realized that, he really started pushing himself past that wall,” Stewart said. “He was even doing better in class — he was actually going to class. It’s funny how a lot of times that doesn’t happen — better in the classroom and on the football field — usually that doesn’t correlate. But I think he’s at that point where he feels good about his plan and himself where he’s comfortable in the classroom and going to class.”
Brown finished his senior season earning All-Conference USA First Team honors and playing a major role in UH’s 13-1 season.
Brown wasn’t drafted this weekend, but for him it’s just another obstacle to overcome.
“It feels good, but I still have to prove myself,” Brown said. “I still feel like an underdog no matter what I do.”