Dolphins sign tight end Les Brown, who hasn’t played football since high school
When we hear about an athlete like Marques Colston who comes from a Division 1-AA school to make an impact at the NFL level, most of us are in awe. In order to gain recognition paying at a school like Hofstra, you really have to put on a show. How about an NFL player who never even played football at the college level? Now that’s impressive. Earlier this week, the Dolphins signed a tight end named Les Brown who is hoping he can get his Jimmy Graham on this upcoming season.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Brown played football in high school and then three years of basketball at Westminster College before dropping out. He was a three-sport star in high school, having played football, basketball, and baseball. Brown was recruited in each of those sports by schools like Harvard and BYU, but he chose to play basketball because he felt he was too small for the gridiron.
“I didn’t have the body to play football,” Brown explained. “I was a tall, skinny kid who liked to sit outside and shoot threes.”
Once Brown realized the NBA was not in his future, he decided to quit school and accept a full-time job offer from an accounting firm in Salt Lake City. That branch later closed, forcing Brown to move to West Palm Beach before he finally decided to return home in July of 2011 to finish his degree.
Brown’s younger brother Braden is a senior offensive tackle at BYU, and when Les returned home, he decided to help Braden search for pro trainers who could help him on his way to an NFL career. One trainer, Chad Ikei, immediately took an interest in Les.
“He looked at me and said, ‘You’ve got the rest of your life to work. You could be a great tight end.'” Les recalled. “Chad was persistent. He wanted to take me on as a project.”
Apparently it worked. Brown later traveled to Hawaii to watch one of his brother’s games and wound up quitting school again and moving to Oahu. Along with 11 other NFL prospects, he went through three workouts a day, six days a week. He got his weight up to 240 pounds and cut his body fat in half. From there he returned to BYU to participate in their pro day, where he posted the highest leap in the vertical, the longest broad jump, and the fastest 40-yard dash time. Not bad for a kid who hadn’t played in a live football in over four years.
“A lot of it was mental,” Brown said. “I’m normally a humble kid, but, going in, I said, ‘I’m going to kill it. I’m going to be the guy the scouts are talking about.’
“When I quit school, some of my friends thought I was foolish, chasing some kind of high school dream. They thought I had a better shot at hitting the lottery than making the NFL. But I was doing it for me. I’d always wondered, ‘What if I had played football?’”
After BYU’s pro day, Brown received calls from the Giants, Eagles, Raiders, Colts, and Packers. He visited the Packers and Dolphins for a workout and eventually inked a three-year deal with Miami. From the sound of it, the last four years of Brown’s life turned out just the way he planned them.
H/T to LBS reader Rory for the tip