COLLEGE PARK, Md. – C.J. Brown has been part of Maryland's football program for so long, he committed to the school when George W. Bush was president.
The sixth-year quarterback will play his final home game Saturday, when the Terrapins (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten) face Rutgers (6-5, 2-5).
A victory will give Maryland a winning record in Big Ten play, no small accomplishment for the team in its first season as part of the traditionally powerful football conference.
"The biggest thing is being able to kind of lead this team through the ups and downs and now the past two seasons be able to go to back-to-back bowl games," said Brown, who missed all but one game in 2010 with a fractured shoulder and all of 2012 with a torn ACL. "We wanted to be in the Big Ten championship. That's not going to happen, but we're trying to leave with a winning record in the Big Ten. That would be pretty satisfying. We exceeded expectations for a lot of people."
That's also the case for Brown, who spent much of 2011 watching Danny O'Brien quarterback the Terps. Brown started just five games when he successfully petitioned the NCAA to remain with the program as the rest of his freshman class departed over the past two years.
"There's a guy that can write a book about overcoming adversity in terms of the injuries and the ups and downs," said coach Randy Edsall, who inherited Brown when he arrived at Maryland in 2011. "He's a young man that you want on your team because he epitomizes what a team player is, epitomizes hard work, character, all the qualities you want. He's been an outstanding leader."
Although he's better known for his legs than his arm, Brown will likely finish third in touchdown passes and fourth in passing yards at Maryland. He has already been part of a school-record 54 touchdowns and is only 516 yards shy of the total offense mark.
"C.J. never ceases to amaze me," Maryland senior cornerback Jeremiah Johnson said. "This guy can take so much criticism from outside sources or even the coaches harping on him, which they were after we lost (37-15 on Nov. 15) to Michigan State. You could see his resiliency, his poise. We always joked about how old he is, but he showed some of that experience being able to come back and play one of his best games."
That was last week at Michigan, where the Terrapins trailed before Brown tied the score with an 8-yard run 13 seconds into the fourth quarter. He then directed a 10-play, 78-yard touchdown drive in the 23-16 victory.
A year after Brown scored the winning touchdown to upset host Virginia Tech in overtime, he has led Maryland to its initial triumph in Ann Arbor and to its first victory at Penn State in 23 tries.
"We had a good showing up at the Big House and we want to keep it rolling," said the 23-year-old Brown, who's working on a master's degree in business and management. "Last one, hopefully it's the best. Senior Day, it will be emotional for a lot of us."