Jan. 29, 2014
Over the next few weeks, UConnHuskies.com will take an in-depth look at the new football coaching staff head coach Bob Diaco has assembled. The series will include feature stories along with special edition episodes of "The Blitz" for each coach. Next up, Co-Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach Vincent Brown.
By Steve Lewis
STORRS, Conn. -- The UConn coaching staff on the defensive side of the ball has a Virginia feel to it under new head coach Bob Diaco. As a defensive coordinator, he hired Anthony Poindexter from the Cavaliers’ staff, but he also brought another defensive coach from Virginia on his staff; -- former Patriots’ linebacker and three-time NFL All-Pro Vincent Brown, who is now UConn’s co-defensive coordinator and will work with the linebackers
Brown is most well-known for his eight-year NFL career as a New England Patriot from 1988-1995. He was selected in the second round of the 1988 draft and started in 103 of his 123 career games.
The new co-defensive coordinator corralled 811 tackles and 16.5 sacks in his playing days, while showing versatility with 10 interceptions and even one touchdown. Brown was named an All-Pro in 1991, 1992, and 1993, with the latter being the season that Bill Parcells took the head coaching job at New England.
“I was fortunate enough to have some great coaches and one of my biggest influences was Bill Parcells,” said Brown. “That taught me how to prepare players and a plan, and how to articulate thoughts to the players so they can go out and play fast.”
After a successful professional career, with the exception of spending one season on the Dallas Cowboys staff as the inside linebackers coach, Brown instead chose to coach up and coming NFL stars in college.
“I had the opportunity to work in the NFL during the 2006 season and it was very rewarding, but this is different. You get the chance to impact the lives of these young men in college football,” said the former Patriots’ linebacker. “You can see their growth and development through years one to four and that is very gratifying.”
The football knowledge and coaching techniques that Brown was exposed to during his time with the Patriots and at his alma mater Mississippi Valley State is what ultimately led him to a coaching career. Before accepting the job at UConn, Brown had spent the past four seasons at Virginia as a linebackers and special teams coach.
As a Cavalier, Brown had the opportunity to form a working relationship with Poindexter, who at the time was the safeties coach for Virginia. Brown is now Poindexter’s right-hand man for defensive play-calling after both men were named defensive coordinators by Diaco.
“I have great respect for Coach Poindexter, he is a very humble individual and he knows football inside and out,” said Brown about his defensive partner. “He is very competitive and very fiery, and I know that our players will respond to that. We are excited about the opportunity to be here and working together.”
Both Brown and Poindexter met Diaco when the Husky head coach was in charge of special teams at Virginia in 2007, which was Brown’s first year at Virginia, serving as a graduate assistant. With Diaco named as the new UConn coach, the time could not have been better for a change of scenery.
“It was an opportunity to grow,” said Brown about the coaching opportunity at UConn. “Virginia was a tremendous place but new opportunities to grow, new opportunities to work with Coach Diaco, it was just the right time and the right opportunity.”
Between his season at Virginia in 2007 and his return in 2010, Brown spent two years as the linebackers coach at in-state Richmond. In 2009, the Spiders won the FCS National Championship while Brown coached three starting linebackers to all-league honors in the Colonial Athletic Association.
With his detailed defensive background, Brown makes a good fit for a UConn defense which will look for strong leadership in 2014.
“That’s in the past,” said Brown, referring to last season’s 3-9 record for the Huskies. “Everything that we’re doing is about the future and going forward, so there’s a vision.”
Brown elaborated on his idea of a vision for the team. “There’s a vision for how the program should be run, vision of how the defense should be played and we’re going to make that vision a reality by making sure our players are well-prepared, smart, and don’t make mistakes so we don’t beat ourselves.”
Having had a previous relationship with his defensive coordinator, the UConn defense will surely have unified leaders who think and act the same way, which spells good news for the Huskies after a season full of changes and uncertainty.
Brown has a wife, Chandra, and four children, Dane, Vincent II, Raven, and Jorian. Between football responsibilities and family life, which includes having one child already graduated from college, two currently attending, and one about to start high school, leisure time can be hard to find, but Brown makes it work.
“Every year, my wife and I try to get away and we’ll go to some tropical place and we try to take the kids with us,” said Brown. “Being a coach, there’s not a lot of time to get away with the family, but we always carve out time during the summer or winter."