The most exclusive club in Kansas State football history only has four members.
That may sound strange considering it was founded in 1971, but few have lived up to its strict entrance demands.
In order to join, one must be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Though the Wildcats have sent former players to the NFL in droves — 107 total draft picks — they haven’t produced many first-round selections. Clarence Scott was the first in 1971. Then came Chris Canty in 1997. Next up was Terence Newman in 2003. Josh Freeman rounded out the group in 2009.
It might not be long before they welcome their next member, though. Former K-State and East High linebacker Arthur Brown is hoping to join next week.
“It would mean a lot to me, no doubt,” Brown said. “It would be an honor to be an elite player in the NFL Draft. That is definitely something to be thankful for. It shines the spotlight on something more than just myself. Kansas State would get the spotlight as well. That is something I think we could all be proud of.”
Coming off a stellar two-year career with the Wildcats in which he made 201 tackles and helped K-State win 21 games, experts are projecting Brown to go anywhere from late in the first round to midway through the second.
Brown said he has performed individual workouts with several teams, including the Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers, Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles. He also flew to Chicago to meet with Bears coaches last week.
It has been an exciting few weeks for Brown, who has built up his confidence after fighting through injuries at the beginning of his pre-draft schedule. Doctors discovered a re-aggravated shoulder injury leading up to the Senior Bowl, leaving him unable to play. Then he accidentally collided with another player during warm-ups for the NFL Combine, and was once again unable to work out in front of pro scouts.
But his stock has been on the rise since a strong performance at K-State’s Pro Day.
“I like Arthur Brown. I like everything about the kid,” said ESPN NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper. “He is productive. He has great character. He has the versatility to be an inside or outside guy. I think he is a solid second-round pick.”
He could also go higher than that. Brown is projected as one of the top five linebackers in this draft, and Kiper admits there are scenarios in which a team could choose him in the first round. The Bears, Broncos and Ravens all have late-round picks.
Of course, Brown has no expectations. Other than noting he will likely be picked in the first three rounds, he doesn’t have any predictions, either.
All he wants to do is work hard, then hope for the best when teams start making selections on April 25.
It’s the same approach he took into games at K-State after transferring from Miami. As long as he prepared the right way, he knew the results would come. Nothing has changed.
“The work never stopped. I’ve always done what I needed to do to be what I wanted to be,” Brown said. “It was just a matter of opportunity and the right timing. Coming back to Kansas State provided an opportunity for me to be an impact player within that team. I really appreciated that. Coach (Bill) Snyder did a great job of preparing me the two years I was there. I was ready for the next step.”
His skills should translate well to the NFL. He was one of the fastest players on K-State’s roster and by far the best tackler. He patrolled the middle of K-State’s defense for two years, defending against the pass and the run. He was best chasing down running backs and quarterbacks in the open field, but he also defended receivers well and came up with interceptions against Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III and Geno Smith.
At 6-foot and 241 pounds, some have argued he is smaller than the typical NFL linebacker, but Brown chuckles at that suggestion.
“I have heard that, but I’ve never once thought of myself as small,” Brown said. “Even if that is the case, it has probably helped me to stay more focused on the fundamentals and techniques. I know how to get the proper leverage and use my body to make tackles. The NFL is much more of a technical game than college. Focusing on the small details is where you separate yourself.”
Brown might also benefit from what his younger brother, Bryce, accomplished as a rookie with the Eagles last season. The former Tennessee and K-State running back was selected in the seventh round. He had a shaky college career, leaving the Wildcats quickly into the 2011 season, but proved himself in the NFL with several big games.
“I probably got more attention and more notoriety because of him,” Brown said. “But I’m not sure how that will affect teams deciding to draft me or not.”
A year ago, Bryce extended K-State’s lengthy streak of having at least one player drafted in 19 consecutive seasons.
Next week, Arthur hopes to end K-State’s first-round drought, and to become the fifth member of the most exclusive club on campus.