Of all the Kansas State football players who have been selected in each of the past 19 NFL Drafts, Bryce Brown’s situation might be the most peculiar.
The former East, Tennessee and K-State running back lasted three games with the Wildcats, quit the team without explanation and had little impact on their successful Cotton Bowl season. He rushed for 16 yards on three carries after being ranked by some the top-ranked high school player in the country.
But he will also be remembered as a contributor to the program’s history. Without him, K-State’s lengthy streak of having a player drafted in consecutive NFL Drafts would have ended at 18 years. But the Philadelphia Eagles chose Brown in the seventh round on Saturday with the 229th overall pick, and the streak lives on. He was the only former K-State player selected.
“He’s had kind of a wild ride here through college football since being the No. 1 running back coming out high school,” said Eagles coach Andy Reid. “… You’re talking tremendous, tremendous skill here. He catches the ball effortlessly and is a smooth, smooth runner. He has all the talent in the world, but it’s just a matter of tying things down here.”
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Brown told Philadelphia reporters on a conference call he was motivated to have a team take a chance on him.
"To have an organization go out on a limb … for them to really believe in me, that makes me feel good and makes me want to go out and work even harder for those guys," Brown said.
Brown started his college career at Tennessee, but transferred to K-State after rushing for 460 yards as a freshman. NFL scouts had little college game film to go off of with Brown, but were impressed by his physical abilities.
At 6-foot, 220 pounds he has the ideal size of a NFL running back, and began to turn heads when he ran 40 yards in 4.37 seconds at K-State’s pro day. He also worked out privately for the Eagles and had meetings with running backs coach Ted Williams leading up to the draft.
“He goes to Kansas State and gets a high ankle sprain and really doesn’t play right away and really didn’t get much of anything out of that experience there,” Reid said. “… No excuses here, but I’m just giving you the story, right? What we saw there was talent … When his name was there at the end as opposed to going into free agency with this highly skilled player where you’re going to be in a bidding war, we decided to use that draft pick there, knowing there is a potential upside to him."
Brown said he’s willing and ready to do whatever Philadelphia coaches ask.
"Being willing and wanting to do it is what I think the great ones have," Brown said.
At least two other K-State players also found NFL homes on Saturday. Tysyn Hartman said he signed a free-agent deal with the Kansas City Chiefs and Emmanuel Lamur announced on Twitter that he did the same with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Hartman, a four-year starter for the Wildcats at safety and former Kapaun product, said he ended up with the team he wanted.
“These past few weeks and months have been so stressful,” Hartman said. “There is only so much you can control. You work so hard for pro day, staying in shape and training all the time. Just to have it all over with and to be heading to a team that is a good fit for me feels great.”