First things first: Despite a frustrating sophomore season, Texas running back Malcolm Brown wants to make it clear that he isn't going anywhere.
With rumors running rampant that he was considering transferring after playing in only seven games and rushing for 316 yards this year, Brown took to Twitter recently to reaffirm his commitment to the Longhorns.
"It was just something I felt I had to get out," Brown said this week. "There were too many rumors flying around, and I really didn't know where they came from. It kept piling on and piling on. I just wanted to clear everything up. I felt it was necessary."
A 2011 Steele graduate who helped lead the Knights to the Class 5A Division II state title as a senior, Brown was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year last season after rushing for 742 yards.
Brown's hopes for building on his strong freshman season were dashed when he sprained his left ankle against Oklahoma State in UT's fourth game. Making his first start of the season, Brown gained just seven yards on three carries before being sidelined.
"It been a little bit frustrating for me this year," Brown said. "Things just happen, and that's really the game of football. There's no real explanation for it.
"I've just kept working hard to help contribute to this team like I know I can. I'm just glad that I was able to get back out on the field, although it wasn't as soon as I wanted it to be."
Brown will be in familiar surroundings when Texas (8-4) plays Oregon State (9-3) in the Alamo Bowl at 5:45 p.m. Saturday at the Alamodome.
A U.S. Army All-American as a senior, Brown rushed for 144 yards and three touchdowns in a victory against East Central at the Alamodome when he was a junior.
Stevens graduate Thompson also plays for Longhorns
"I'm excited to be back in San Antonio," Brown said. "I've been telling the guys that San Antonio fans are great. They get wild and they're faithful. There's a whole lot of Longhorn fans here. It's going to be a fun atmosphere.
"I'm ready to play. We want to send our seniors out with a win. Those guys were here when we were on top, and they've been with us through this tough season. We want to get this program back on the track and get some momentum going into the spring."
The Longhorns have another former standout from the San Antonio area, sophomore safety Mykkele Thompson, a Stevens graduate who started five game this season. He tied for first in the Big 12 with two blocked punts.
Brown rushed for 105 and 128 yards yards against Wyoming and Mississippi, respectively, before hurting his ankle. He missed the West Virginia, Oklahoma, Baylor, Kansas and Texas Tech games with the same injury.
Brown returned to action against Iowa State, running for 31 yards on 10 carries. He had seven carries for 40 yards and two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving, against Kansas State. He recorded career-highs with six receptions for 43 yards against the Wildcats.
Brown has only 57 carries this season, but leads UT running backs with an average of 5.5 yards per attempt. Freshman Johnathan Gray (142/683) and sophomore Joe Bergeron (122/565) are the team's leading rushers. Gray is expected to start against Oregon State.
"We have tremendous backs on this team," Brown said. "Honestly, you can label us all as starters in my mind. I also feel the whole team thinks that. Honestly, there's really no set starter. It depends on what play we're calling the first play of the game."
One of the top recruits in the country when he played at Steele, Brown narrowed his college choice to UT and Alabama before committing to the Longhorns a few days before the season opener of his senior season.
With Alabama in the BCS title game for a second consecutive year, does Brown ever second-guess his choice not to sign with the Crimson Tide?
"Not at all," Brown said. "When I chose this school, a commitment is a commitment. I committed to this school and I''m going to stay right here. I've been enjoying it. I've been hurt, but I've enjoyed the whole experience of going to Texas. It's really a family atmosphere. It did not take long at all for them to accept me. I'm really comfortable there."
Brown still close to Steele coach Jinks
Brown was recruited by Major Applewhite, now the Longhorns' co-offensive coordinator. Applewhite, who joined Mack Brown's staff in 2008, coached the team's running backs until co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin left the staff earlier this month to become head coach at Arkansas State.
Brown, who coaches the quarterbacks now, will handle the play-calling duties in the Alamo Bowl.
"Just having Coach Applewhite as my coach has been great," Brown said. "He's taught me a lot, not just about football, but about life in general, like little things do matter. You have to motivate yourself throughout the day.
"None of us is going to have perfect days. But the next day, you've got to come out and do your best, whether it's in school or in football."
Brown also has maintained a strong bond with Steele coach Mike Jinks, who has led the Knights to 42 victories in their last 44 games. Steele went 15-0 last year before losing in the 5A Division II state final and fell in the Division II state semifinals this season, finishing 14-1.
Jinks was at the Longhorns' open workout on Christmas Eve at Alamo Heights' Orem Stadium.
"It was definitely nice to see him again," Brown said. "Coach Jinks shoots me a text every once in a while. He is a guy who is repetitive about the things he says, and he works his way inside your head. Coach Jinks is really a great guy.
"He is easy to understand and makes it real simple for you. He's a smart guy who can develop players. He's a great coach."
Brown smiled when he was asked his thoughts on Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who won the Heisman Trophy this season as a redshirt freshman. Brown played against Manziel when the latter was a standout at Kerrville Tivy.
"I know Johnny personally and it was great to see him win that," Brown said, referring to the Heisman. "Honestly, I almost wasn't surprised because the same stuff he's doing now is what he did in high school. He did it against us. I'm really happy for him."