A legendary Longhorn

Assistant principal is one of the all time leading rushers in UT history

One of the top running backs in the history of UT football, assistant principal Phil Brown is the 16th best leading rusher in UT history finishing his career with 2,322 yards rushing.

One of the top running backs in the history of UT football, assistant principal Phil Brown is the 16th best leading rusher in UT history finishing his career with 2,322 yards rushing.

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College football dominates the Saturdays of millions of fans across the United States. Saturday, hundreds of thousands are predicted to tune in to watch the University of Texas play the University of Oklahoma in the annual Red River Shootout, one of the most anticipated rivalries of the season.

But there’s one man on campus that is perhaps more interested than anybody else at the school. Assistant principal Phil Brown played running back at UT from 1990 to 1993, rushing for the most yards per attempt in the Southwest Conference during his senior year.

How would I fare today? Being the athlete that I was then, I think today I’d fare pretty well.”

— Assistant principal and former UT running back Phil Brown

“It was a phenomenal experience to be part of a soaring program and to participate in so many rivalries and so many great games even while I was there to just be a part of that is just a truly amazing experience,” Brown said. “I don’t miss it, you replace it with things that you know with my own kids seeing them successful in sports as well as things going on here at school, just seeing young people grow up and helping them reach their potential and achieve their dreams.”

Recruited by the Longhorns out of Commerce High School, Brown became one of UT's all time leading rushers, averaging more than five yards a carry.

Recruited by the Longhorns out of Commerce High School, Brown became one of UT’s all time leading rushers, averaging more than five yards a carry.

Brown has four sons: Landon, Andre, Zander and Jax. Landon works in the oil fields, Andre is a senior football player at Tarelton State, Jax is in seventh grade at Roach Middle School, and Zander is a junior and varsity baseball player for the Redhawks.

“He started and played all four years so that’s pretty cool,” Zander said. “I honestly don’t know as much about [his playing days] as I should. I know he holds a record for squat at UT. He really doesn’t talk about it unless he is saying he would run all over the players that play today.”

But rather than live in his college glory days, Brown emphasizes being present and intentional in the moment.

“My kids know a little bit [about my playing days] because they’ll see clips on TV, you know, during Texas-OU weekend or some other game that’s going on,” Brown said. “They know a little bit about it from clips and things in my past but it’s not something that I really dwell on. It’s something that I did. I moved on from it. It’s a part of who I am but not who I am. I let them know that although it was a great experience and I had fun doing it, it doesn’t dominate my life.”

Most staff members are unaware of Brown’s accomplishments as a collegiate athlete; he ranks number sixteen on the list of UT’s all-time rushing leaders.

“I knew he played at UT but I didn’t know he was that highly ranked,” head football coach Chris Burtch said. “That’s pretty cool. I think it’s pretty neat, it’ll always be a nice deal for him and something that he can re-live and be proud of. That’s quite an accomplishment.”

While on the team, Brown played in a number of exciting games, but perhaps none as big as the Red River games at the Cotton Bowl.

“If you notice any big rivalry game, it’s just an electric atmosphere, and just coming out of the locker room and the tunnel, seeing half the stadium burnt orange and half the stadium crimson cream is a sight to behold,” said Brown. “There’s not really a whole lot of experiences like it in college football, especially with the rivalry being in such a strong rivalry as it is and I hope that’s something they never go away from, regardless of what happens in the politics of college football. With the background of the State Fair, I don’t know if you really get that anywhere else.”

These days, Brown’s impact goes beyond the playing field as his accomplishments have set an example for students on campus.  

“I think it’s really interesting and shows us how much of a hard worker he was at such a great university as UT,” senior football player Eliott Ghatas said. “It also shows what kind of character he has, being motivated to do certain things.”

Although Brown doesn’t miss his playing days and has moved on to bigger and better things, he believes he would still dominate on the field today.

“How would I fare today?” Brown said. “Being the athlete that I was then, I think today I’d fare pretty well.”