COLLEGE PARK, Md. – As a sixth-year senior, Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown has accumulated invaluable experience on the football field and a wealth of knowledge in the classroom.
The tradeoff is that the 23-year-old feels his age when surrounded by dozens of teammates not far removed from high school.
"Every day I come off the practice field I definitely feel like the old guy," Brown said. "Getting in the ice tub, trying to take care of the body. The freshmen, they run, run, run, then go shower and get out."
Brown arrived at Maryland in 2009 after being recruited by coach Ralph Friedgen to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He will finish his college career playing for Randy Edsall against Big Ten competition.
"What does everyone say? Stay in college as long as you can," Brown said with a wry grin Tuesday.
His final year will began Saturday in a home game against James Madison. It goes without saying that Brown will be called upon to run, pass and oversee the 10 other players in the huddle.
"I think the biggest thing with a sixth-year guy is leadership and having a feel and command of what we're going offensively," Edsall said. "I want to see him take control of that offense, take control of that team and make sure he's got everybody on the field doing the things he needs them to do when he's out there."
Brown received a redshirt in his first year at Maryland and played in one game the following year before sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury. He played in 10 games in 2011, started five and finished with a team-high five touchdown runs and a 7.27 yards per carry average.
He missed the 2012 season after tearing his ACL in preseason practice, but bounced back last year to become the first quarterback in school history to throw for at least 2,000 yards and run for 500 yards in a single season.
Now comes the encore, and Brown is poised to go out in style.
"The things I've seen, the way things have unfolded, I'm thankful for the opportunity and that I have another year," he said. "In terms of experience, it's definitely helped."
Brown has run for 1,162 yards and passed for 3,084 yards. But his lengthy stay at Maryland will not be defined solely by what he accomplished on the field.
Brown long ago earned an undergraduate degree in communications and this year expects to receive a master's degree in business and management.
"I'm going to get two degrees paid for and I get to play college football, a game that I love," he said. "Sure, injuries are part of the game, but at the same time you've got to appreciate the opportunities that come with it. I'm trying to take advantage of those opportunities and make the most of it."
Even it means being older than most of his peers. It is a situation that does not go unnoticed, nor is it ignored.
"Yeah, we make fun of him and he makes fun of himself," guard Silvano Altamirano said. "But I feel very confident he can handle everything on and off the field. He's been doing this for a while."