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Orlando Brown Q&A
On Sale at Newsstands Aug. 29, 2016!
Sooner offensive lineman talks football, life
The first thing you notice about Orlando Brown is just how mountainous of a young man he has grown to be. At 6-foot-8 and 340 pounds, Brown is easily the biggest player on the Oklahoma roster.
The second thing you notice about the Sooners’ starting left tackle is his peaceful demeanor, followed closely by an engaging personality and an ability to articulate his thoughts and feelings on pretty much any topic that comes up, including football, classwork and life.
If Brown wasn’t slated to line up against opposing defenses this season and protect Baker Mayfield’s hindside, he might be considered an excellent candidate to get his own radio sports talk show or a TV gig doing sideline reporting. He’s certainly got the skillset to make that leap someday down the road when his playing career is over.
But for now, the only show that holds Brown’s interest is the high-powered Oklahoma offense and doing his part in the trenches to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible in 2016.
Sooner Spectator caught up with the Georgia native recently to ask him about his time at OU so far, his late father and much more.
Sooner Spectator: The offensive line lost some veteran guys from last year’s playoff team. Do you feel the pieces will be in place to have a solid line again this fall?
Orlando Brown: I definitely believe we do. I look around at this crew and see a bunch of guys who are dedicated to working together and becoming a very physical group. And at the same time, having as much fun as we can in that process. We are going to have a very good offensive line this season and I feel we’ll only get better as the season goes along.
SS: You are only a redshirt sophomore, but with a year of starting experience under your belt and all of the work you have put in this offseason — your role with the team will be that of a leader this season.
Brown: I believe that’s something a player in my position has to embrace. Even though I’m still considered a young player, I know there are guys stepping into certain positions this season who will maybe look to me for a level of leadership or advice. My main role is to lead by example and that’s what I try to do every day. Really, the entire offensive line does a great job of working together, sharing and pushing each other to become the best we can be.
SS: What has been the biggest hurdle for you since arriving on campus back in 2014?
Brown: Honestly, just understanding that football is more than just knowing your position and playing aggressively. There is so much more to it, like knowing what the guys around you are supposed to be doing every play, knowing their assignments. And on top of that, you have to learn what the defensives are going to try to do against you, what they are thinking and how they are going to attack the offense.
SS: Trust and communication are obviously critical to the success of you and your offensive teammates?
Brown: Those things are huge for any team, and especially for an offensive line that has so many working parts and guys who have to trust that the guy next to them is going to be where he’s supposed to be and do his job so you can do your job right. It’s almost like we have to know what each other is thinking, to some degree. And the quarterback, too. Everyone has to be on the same page for our offense to work like it’s supposed to work.
SS: What are your thoughts on O-line coach Bill Bedenbaugh and what he brings to the table?
Brown: Honestly, he’s the best offensive line coach in the country. They don’t get any better than him. He’s a great person, which is where I believe it really starts for a coach. You can trust in what he is telling you and asking you to do — because you know it’s going to make you a better player. You know he’s invested in your success and you know you’re going to get the best he’s got every day.
SS: Your father, Orlando “Zeus” Brown had a highly successful NFL career before passing away unexpectedly at the age of 40. Do you draw inspiration from his accomplishments and the way he played the game?
Brown: Always. What he did, the success he had — I look at those things and all of the work he put in to get to where he was as a football player. Obviously, one of the lessons I learned from his passing is that tomorrow is not promised. There are no guarantees, so I approach each day and just focus on doing everything I need to do to reach my goals. I think my ultimate goal is to follow in his footsteps and make a name for myself in this game. He set the standard for me and I am always motivated by his legacy.
SS: Do you ever watch much film of your father and learn from the way he played the game and what he did on the field?
Brown: I used to watch a ton of my dad’s film when he was playing. But I haven’t watched a whole lot since I got to OU — obviously, because the types of offense my dad’s teams ran and what we run here are two very different things. My dad’s style was 100 percent raw — no technique at all. I don’t have all the talent he had, so I have to work a lot harder to put myself in a position to play and be dominating.
SS: Do you believe the offensive line for this 2016 team can be as good or better than the O-line from last season?
Brown: I really do. This is a very talented group of linemen. Besides the guys we have back who played big roles last season, there are players like Bobby Evans, Cody Ford, Erick Wren, Ben Powers and Quinn Mittermeier who are hungry to earn their way onto the field and help us be the best offensive line we can possibly be. There is not a guy out there who doesn’t want to be great and do what it takes to make this football team great. We are working to possibly get to the next level at some point. But you can ask everyone of those guys what their main goal is — and they’ll tell you it’s to protect Baker and give our running backs room to run. And most importantly, it’s to win a national championship.
SS: You guys do all of that hard work in the trenches and then sit back and watch the quarterback, running backs and receivers grab all of the headlines. Is it tough to play in the shadows like that?
Brown: I fully embrace the position I play and understand that’s just part of the game. I love what I do. Part of my job is to protect Baker and I embrace the responsibility that comes with that. I enjoy the one-on-one battles and knowing so much depends on how well I do my job every week. If Baker and Samaje and those guys are having great success, then I know that me and my teammates are doing something right. That’s our reward.
(Editor's Note: This Q&A appears in the Aug. 29, 2016 issue of Sooner Spectator. To read more or subscribe, call 405-364-4515)