The opportunity to be a student football coach at Connecticut held Ty-Meer Brown's attention for, oh, say, a millisecond.
With a year of eligibility remaining and a dream of playing in the NFL, Brown wanted to be a player, not a coach — in spite of being diagnosed with a serious medical condition.
The 6-foot, 201-pound strong safety from McKeesport sought opinions from a number of doctors and determined he was well enough to continue to play. It won't be at UConn, though he's on schedule to graduate from there with a degree in sociology later this month.
It's on to Boston College, where Brown, a redshirt senior, has transferred and was cleared to play his final college football season while pursuing a master's degree.
“He'll be fine,” said his father Tim Brown, a former middle linebacker and captain of West Virginia's unbeaten 1993 team. “I didn't push him to do it. He said he's comfortable with his decision, so I am, too.”
After 2 1⁄2 seasons at UConn, Ty-Meer Brown said he was expecting to make an impact with the Boston College defense in the fall. He considered Georgia Tech and said that Kent State and Youngstown State showed interest.
“I just thought Boston College felt like the right place to be,” Brown said.
He will reunite with defensive coordinator Don Brown (no relation), who will enter his second season at Boston College after spending two years as defensive coordinator at UConn.
After learning of his spinal disorder, doctors at UConn midway through the 2013 season discouraged Brown from playing because of the possibility of paralysis. They said Brown was born with spinal stenosis, a compression of the spinal canal that slows the flow of fluid through the region and heightens the chances of a serious injury, particularly when playing contact sports.
Brown had sought treatment for a bulging disc in his neck when an MRI revealed more, and he underwent surgery at UPMC Presbyterian.
Newly named UConn coach Bob Diaco told Brown he could join the Huskies staff as a student coach. Brown declined, deciding instead to get more information.
“I got a few opinions from different doctors, and when it was all said and done, the UConn doctors were the only ones to say no,” said Brown, who captained McKeesport's 2009 team and was a member of the Trib's Terrific 25 all-star team.
While in Pittsburgh, Brown was told him his spinal condition wasn't too severe and that he likely would have to suffer a major neck injury to risk permanent damage.
“At first, it worried me,” Brown said. “But I did a lot of research on this, and I talked to a lot of different doctors.”
Brown said he also drew inspiration from the case of Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jones, who was thought to have the same neck disorder as Brown while attending Southern California. Jones, like Brown, was not cleared by team doctors to continue playing at USC and later transferred to Georgia.
“I'm comfortable with my decision,” Brown said.
At UConn in 2013, Brown started the first seven games at strong safety, totaling 51 tackles, before missing the final five.
“I'm just about to accomplish one of my short-term goals — graduating from UConn,” Brown said. “I'm looking forward now to playing my last season in college and getting to the NFL.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.
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