Nationally ranked tight end expected to return for another season


Kate Connors

Keenen Brown, 6, jumps to catch a pass Oct. 6 and gives the Bobcats a first down against Louisiana Lafayette. Photo by Kate Conners

Sean Anchondo

Nationally ranked tight end Keenen Brown plans on returning to Texas State next year for his final season. Heading into the end of the season, Brown has put up serious numbers and is being talked about as one of the best tight end players in the country.

As of Nov. 5, CBS Sports ranked Brown as the No. 1 tight end in the Sun Belt Conference and No. 8 in the country. In mid-October, Pro Footballer Focus also graded Brown as the top tight end in the country with an overall grade of 90.4. Keenen Brown is beginning to catch the attention of NFL scouts, which has led many to believe he will leave after this year.

Brown, however, said he plans on staying, pending an NCAA decision. As a redshirt senior, Brown had to appeal with the NCAA to play another year. This appeal isn’t expected to be announced until the offseason.

“I am planning on coming back for another year,” Brown said. “I am not sure yet. Time will tell.”

After seven games, Brown has 30 receptions for 420 yards and four touchdowns, with an average of 14 yards per carry. A ferocious runner, Brown is also one of the leaders in broken tackles.

“He is like a 255-pound running back on the perimeter,” Tight end coach Adrian Mayes said. “The one thing he tries to do is, score on every play.”

Brown was originally recruited as a wide receiver, which explains his instincts as a pass catcher and crisp route runner. A 4-star recruit from Alief Taylor High School in Houston, Brown was fielding offers from schools like the University of Florida, University of Arkansas, Louisiana State University, Oklahoma State University, Michigan State University, University of Oregon, and West Virginia University. He ended up choosing Oklahoma State.

Brown has attributed his on-field successes to his relationship with his coaches, specifically Mayes.

“I am getting comfortable,” Brown said. “I like the coaching staff. I am playing for a great coach, Coach Mayes. He teaches me a lot of different stuff. He gives me the opportunity to get the ball in my hands and gives me a chance. All I need is a chance.”

Brown said he models his game after former Oklahoma State players Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon. After his transition to tight end, he began to focus on players like hall-of-fame tight ends like Tony Gonzalez and current Pro-Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski.

While at Oklahoma State, Brown played behind current Dallas Cowboy tight end Blake Jarwin, who had an influence on Brown’s work ethic.

“I learned you have to go to work every day,” Brown said. “He was a workaholic. He was smart, he taught me different techniques he taught me to get bigger stronger and faster every day.”

Keenen Brown experienced a few setbacks during his time at Oklahoma State, with a 2015 Lisfranc injury taking him off the field for the season. The injury helped him understand the position better, bulk up in the weight room and learn how to analyze film. As a tight end, this ended up helping Brown. With his playing time shrinking and an interest in being close to home, Brown decided to transfer to Texas State.

Keenen Brown’s transfer to Texas State was a fresh start for the player. Growing up around Houston, this was a school not too far from home, which was key in his decision to transfer. Brown also wanted to be a focal part of the offense. Brown said he likes the young program and wants to be part of turning the program into a winning one.

Mayes was also a big reason for bringing in the star player, as he recruits a lot of players from Alief Taylor High School. After Mayes talked to Brown’s old coach from Alief Taylor High School, Cedrick Hardeman, about Brown transferring to Texas State, Hardeman gave Brown the thumbs up to come to Texas State.

The University Star will update as the NCAA eligibility decision is announced.

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