Arthur Brown has come full circle now.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Kansas State’s prized middle linebacker was buried on the Miami depth chart making little to no contributions for the Hurricanes.
Fast forward three years and Brown has established himself as one of the best at his position for the 21st-ranked Wildcats.
And on Saturday, the former blue-chip prospect from Wichita will try to make it two straight wins over his former team when his Wildcats (1-0) host the Hurricanes (1-0) at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Last season Brown traveled to Miami where he helped the Wildcats to a dramatic 28-24 victory over the Hurricanes. It was a win that seemed to create enough momentum to carry K-State deep into a season full of fourth-quarter comebacks and narrow victories.
“I definitely feel like that was a confidence booster, not only for me, but for our team as a whole,” said Brown, who played two seasons with the Hurricanes before transferring to K-State. “It was a time, a moment, that we laid another stone in the foundation that we were trying to build.”
The difference between winning and losing that game came down to four plays at the goal line in the final minute — four plays highlighted by Tre Walker’s tackle at the 1-yard line to seal the road victory and set K-State on a path that culminated in a 10-win season and a Cotton Bowl appearance.
“The final moment of that game was those four downs and that helped establish who we were as a defense,” Brown said. “It helped build our confidence and showed that we really could play with anyone in the country. That was a defining moment.”
If that game was a defining moment for the Wildcats, then the same could be said for Brown, because in a year’s time, he’s emerged not only as one of the most feared linebackers in the country, but an even better leader.
“Coach (Bill) Snyder has always talked to us about and pushes us to step out of our comfort zone, especially when it comes to leadership — push ourselves beyond our limits,” K-State quarterback Collin Klein said, “therefore help pull the team from beyond what our normal state is.
“Arthur’s done that. We’ve all tried to do that. He’s a very quiet person, but when he speaks, everyone listens.”
Whether he admits it or not, that game at Miami also went a long way in perhaps exorcising some demons for Brown, who registered just 17 total tackles with the Hurricanes in two seasons.
“I didn’t go into the game with any personal vengeance or anything like that,” said Brown, who led K-State with 101 stops a year ago. “I was just hoping for a win, preparing for a win and expecting to win. It wasn’t personal to me.”
But Brown does admit being back in Miami a year ago — wearing the purple and white — brought back a flood of memories, both good and bad.
“There were a lot of memories, a lot of excitement and lot of energy going into the game,” he said. “I really had to focus and try to keep the focus where it needed to be.
“The guys really rallied around me and helped me keep my focus.”
Though K-State coach Bill Snyder said Brown always prepares well, that game last season did give him some cause for concern. After all, it’s not everyday that a college player gets to face his or her former team.
“We tried hard and had that dialogue to not let that be an all-consuming ballgame for him,” Snyder said Tuesday. “I think emotionally he did a pretty a good job of that. I think he’s pretty good about taking it a day at a time and a step at a time and he did that during the course of that week.”
Now Brown is set to face his former team again — Saturday at 11a.m. and televised nationally on FX. And yet again, Brown has tried hard to downplay the significance of the game, other than being just that — another game on the schedule.
Might Brown feel compelled to offer a pregame speech this week?
“I haven’t thought about it — if something comes to mind or is in my heart and there’s something I need to say, then I will say it,” he said. “I don’t think this is a game that I’m going to take personally. I need to keep the focus where it needs to be in order for us to come out on top and achieve our goals.”