Cibolo Steele head coach Mike Jinks watched Malcolm Brown lift the Division II Class 5A state trophy after scoring the game-winning touchdown in a 24-21 victory over Denton Guyer last December.
It was the ultimate ending to a remarkable high school football career for Brown. At that moment, Jinks thought about how far his star running back had come.
Flash forward to now as Jinks contemplates Brown's future at Texas and the special things he sees. We talked about it all with Jinks in a wide-ranging interview about the running back who doesn't want to be seen as a "savior" at Texas.
"Malcolm is mature beyond his years," Jinks said. "He has a phenomenal work ethic and a business-like approach. He sees the big picture. He does realize first and foremost that the difference he can make goes beyond his ability on the field.
"The character that he has. He takes those things very seriously. He lets football take care of itself, but he's a student of the game. He was down at Texas a few times in the spring and would always come back and tell me 'This looks like what we are doing here,' so he's going to pick things up very quickly.
"It's just going to be a matter of those first couple weeks or months or what have you, getting used to the speed of the game. I'm biased, but I think he'll have a pretty early impact."
A SPECIAL TALENT
Brown ran for 6,663 yards (third-best in San Antonio history) with 86 rushing touchdowns and a 9.8 yards-per-carry average, helping Steele rack up a 44-9 record in three years as a starter.
An early impact by Brown at UT would be welcomed at Texas like water in the desert.
The Texas running game has been inconsistent ever since Jamaal Charles left after the 2007 season. Even in that year, the run game was a mess until the final four games of the season. Jinks thinks Malcolm Brown, who is an A-B student, can help with that.
"He's a unicorn," Jinks said. "I don't know how else to say it. He's that being that's not supposed to be there, that's not supposed to have all this ability and the grades. He's Tim Tebowish.
"I can honestly say I can understand how coach (Gregg) Popovich feels. The thing that Malcolm Brown has done for our program in the time he was here reminds me of what Tim Duncan has done for the Spurs.
"Pop has said many times, 'I didn't coach him any differently than I coached anyone else. And he accepted coaching and wanted coaching, and every play he went about business the right way.'
"And when I ripped his tail, he responded with, 'Yes, sir,' and never once took it the wrong way. And when your top guy is getting his butt ripped and handling it like a man, what is everyone else forced to do? Handle it the right way and respond."
Jinks saw how much football meant to Brown during the 2008 season, when Brown was a sophomore. Brown ran for 1,352 yards and 17 TDs in seven games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.
"He had to sit and watch while we continued thrive and win games as a football team," Jinks said. "Number one, he was a great teammate. He never pouted here publicly. But in visiting with him the last couple of years, it was very difficult for him.
"It made him realize how quickly the game could be taken from him. And for a 15-year-old kid to understand the world moves on without you. He already had a phenomenal work ethic.
"But coming into that offseason and his junior year and senior year, his approach was and has been that 'This game can be taken from me at any time and there's not going to be a day that I don't give all that I have.'"
Jinks said he saw Malcolm Brown become a truly dominant force this season in the state quarterfinals against San Antonio MacArthur. MacArthur was 12-1 coming into the game and was picked by many to take down Steele, which had an 11-2 record.
But Jinks said Brown took over the game and broke MacArthur's will in a 49-26, no-doubt-about-it victory. Brown finished with 242 yards and three touchdowns with Major Applewhite in attendance.
"All year, San Antonio MacArthur had been ranked as high as 18 or 19 in the nation," Jinks said. "There was a lot talk that we were the two best teams in the area but that maybe they were more polished, more well-rounded. Things of that nature.
"In that ballgame, he single-handedly broke their will. In the first few drive the game, just with the force that he ran with. By the third drive of the game, it was over because they didn't want anything to do with him. To me, that was his defining moment. He was on a mission.
"He dominated the game. They were probably one of the best teams in the area, and we beat them badly. It was 20-0 in a heartbeat in front of a jam-packed stadium, and everyone was like, 'Whoa.' He set the tempo."
Brown doesn't care for the attention. He thinks it takes away from his teammates.
And Brown is completely turned off when he hears people calling him a "savior."
"I don't want to be labeled as a savior," Brown told the San Antonio Express-News. "I can't fix everything. I'm going to be a freshman, and it's a whole different level. I'm just going to work as hard as I can and hope to contribute right away."
Jinks calls Brown the "silent killer."
"He's a gentle giant," Jinks said. "He's not a man of many words. He's humble in his approach. What you see on the field is his personality off the field. He's genuine. He's caring. As people see him get to scoring these touchdowns, the ball will go to the official, and he'll go to the sidelines. That's the way he goes about his business. It's so rewarding to see.
"He wears 28 for a reason. He's an Adrian Peterson fan. But he's told me his favorite back growing up was Ricky Williams. That's why his junior year I had no clue where he was going to end up. He said he loves Adrian Peterson but his favorite back of all time as a kid was Ricky Williams."
TEXAS OVER ALABAMA
Nick Saban was all over Malcolm Brown. And for a minute Jinks thought Brown might be headed to Tuscaloosa. But he said Major Applewhite and Mack Brown won over Brown's family.
"Malcolm's mom fell in love with Mack Brown. And he's a momma's boy," Jinks said. "No. Coach Brown had proximity, and Texas is Texas. It's as good as you get. And the opportunity to play 45 minutes from your home is very enticing.
"Coach Applewhite was diligent in his recruitment. Texas was always straight up, and Malcolm appreciated that. There was nothing trying to be done under the table or some of the things you read and hear about. There were no lies. What they said they were going to do they did.
"It came down to Texas and Alabama. Florida State had an outside shot because Malcolm's mom is from Florida. His dad's family is from Mississippi."
Malcolm's father, Tommy, played receiver and ran track at Northwest Mississippi Junior College from 1982-84. But his parents aren't overly involved in things and let Malcolm make his own decisions, Jinks said.
BROWN AND GRAY
In 2012, Texas may have the most explosive running back tandem in the country with Brown and Johnathan Gray. Gray has 12 touchdowns in back-to-back state title games with one more year left at Aledo.
Jinks said Brown was fine with Gray committing to Texas.
"Malcolm is smart and so is Johnathan," Jinks said. "This is a brutal game, and a running back only has so many carries. Both of those young men have aspirations of having stellar careers at Texas and maybe playing a little bit after Texas.
"A running back only has so many carries. So to have someone there to help share those carries, it only prolongs your career. So I think those guys are mature beyond their years, and they understand those facts.
"I'm not sure the depth of the conversation between Malcolm and Johnathan, but I know there is mutual respect between the two. I think that's awesome, and it's going to benefit both of them."
It would have been easy for Brown to lose focus. The adulation surrounding Brown his last two years of high school sometimes got out of hand.
"It's my 17th year in education," Jinks said. "And I've been at places with some pretty talented kids. But I've never seen anything like this. The frenzy that developed at the end of his junior year and going into his senior year, I've never seen anything like it.
"We'd go to games, and I'd have to get the cops to go get him. We'd go to Kerville Tivy and after the game, he's surrounded by 50 to 60 fans trying to get him to sign things. And we're just trying to get to the bus.
"It was like that week in and week out. But he handled it. What showed me more about what he was as a person away from football was the way his teammates handled it. Normally there would be some resentment or some smart comments. Never once.
"That told me a lot about the respect his teammates had for him. We had some other guys on our team who were high quality athletes. It was different, it was unique. I've never seen anything like it. But I've never had the No. 1 running back in the country, either."
Jinks said Brown is so quiet that sometimes you don't even notice he's there.
"We'd be in the office or in a meeting, and you wouldn't even know he was there he's so quiet," Jinks said. "He's a gym rat and soaks it all up. He's got all the intangibles you need to be successful, to be great."
Even though Jinks doesn't want to put any added pressure on his former star running back, he thinks Malcolm Brown will have an immediate impact at Texas.
"His personality goes behind the scenes," Jinks said. "There's a way that he goes about his business. His talent alone and what it can do for Texas, I mean you've got Fozzy (Whittaker) and Cody (Johnson). But they have distinct talents, and I think Malcolm embodies them both in one.
"He'll give Texas more of an identity in the running game. He's a thumper, and he can change the tempo of a game. He runs with such physicality. When the O-line sees that, they are going to perk up.
"And when the defense sees it, they are going to say, 'OK, let's ride.' I'm going to be shocked if he doesn't have that kind of effect on things."
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