AUSTIN, Texas – Always proud of his son, Tommy Brown knew Malcolm was a good player but wasn't really sure if what he saw was special.
Others could see it right away.
That's why Malcolm was called up to the Cibolo Steele varsity late in the season — as a ninth-grader. And that's why he got the ball to score the winning touchdown in overtime in a victory that sent Steele to the playoffs that season.
"It may not have been a big thing to him," Tommy Brown said. "But it was exciting for us."
That was just the beginning. Now everyone has taken notice of the power, speed and bruising skill in the 6-1, 215-pound senior who rates among the top running back recruits in the country.
Scholarship offers poured in, but Brown weighed only two options for college: Alabama, last season's national champion and home of Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, and Texas, the team the Crimson Tide beat in the Rose Bowl and just a 60-mile drive away from his home in the San Antonio suburbs.
Brown's coach says he has chosen Texas, making him coach Mack Brown's first big catch at the position since Jamaal Charles in 2005. Since then, the Longhorns have watched a trove of talented running backs head elsewhere.
Brown's size and strength belie a teenager who is one of the youngest in his class. He just turned 17.
Brown rushed for 2,170 yards and 33 touchdowns as a junior. He had 299 yards in a 27-20 playoff loss, getting stopped just a few feet from the end zone in the final seconds.
A 2010 season similar to his junior effort would be impressive because Brown will have to play behind an entirely new offensive line. Brown had 179 total yards with an 88-yard touchdown run in Steele's first game.
The son of an Air Force veteran, Brown is an active member of his church where his father is a deacon. He often participates in community outreach with the homeless and church visits to the sick in hospitals.
"We know eventually that football is over and life will go on," Tommy Brown said. "He's pretty grounded. Malcolm's faith plays a part in that."