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Brown energized by return to UK

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A Bluegrass native and former Wildcat wide receiver, Neal Brown returns to UK after three seasons as offensive coordinator at Texas Tech. (Texas Tech Athletics) A Bluegrass native and former Wildcat wide receiver, Neal Brown returns to UK after three seasons as offensive coordinator at Texas Tech. (Texas Tech Athletics)
Ever since he decided leave his home-state school in 2000 to finish his collegiate career at Massachusetts, Neal Brown has thought about a homecoming.

The Bluegrass native grew up a Kentucky fan and maintained his loyalty no matter whether football coaching had taken him to Deep South or the Northeast. He can even remember his family delaying the start of his grandfather's surprise 90th birthday to watch the end of UK's overtime upset of eventual national champion Louisiana State in 2007.

"We had to drive him around a little bit so the people at the house could finish watching the game," Brown said.

Brown, though, wasn't going to come back just come back. He had worked too hard to become recognized as one of the brightest young offensive minds in the game to make any move that wasn't the right one for himself, his wife, his two children and his career.

Fortunately for all parties involved, when new UK head coach Mark Stoops came calling with an offer to become offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, it was perfect.

"I wanted it to be in the right situation," Brown said at his first UK press conference. "I believe this is the right situation 100 percent."

At least for a while, it was no lock that Brown's UK return would happen.

Having coached offenses at Troy and Texas Tech that ranked in the top seven nationally in passing yards and top 15 in total yards each of the last four years, Brown emerged as a candidate for head-coaching jobs this offseason. As he sorted through his options, Stoops didn't pressure him for an answer. Quite the opposite in fact: Stoops related to Brown's experience and encouraged him to "Go through the process."

That told Brown everything he needed to know about the man he's now working for.

" 'This is a good guy. This is a good person. This is a guy that understands what we're doing on a day-to-day basis.' " Brown recalled telling his wife. "I said, 'I can work for him. I want to work for him.' "

Once he had a feel for Stoops, that cinched it. Brown already had all the information he needed about his new/old school.

"(Stoops) didn't have to sell me (on UK)," Brown said. "I have been sold on Kentucky football my whole life."

Brown was a part of some of Kentucky football's most memorable successes as a player. He was a wide receiver when Tim Couch was the quarterback and reached a pair of bowl games, including the Outback Bowl at the conclusion of the 1998 season.

In other words, he's seen firsthand the potential of Kentucky football.

"We have done it before and we are going to do it again," Brown said.

Looking to help take the program to new heights, Brown will install an offense that figures to remind fans of the Air Raid attack that set so many records in the late-1990s. The principles will remain much the same, as Brown plans to use tempo to catch opposing defenses off guard and spacing to allow athletes to make plays. The relatively simple nature of the offense will persist too. Brown said he expects complete installation to be complete within the first three days of spring practice.

The main difference between what fans will see out of UK next fall and the offense that had the sirens blaring in Commonwealth Stadium during the Hal Mumme era is versatility.

"Now, what we have done is we have made a concerted effort to run the football," Brown said. "We are playing at a faster pace and we dress those plays up with motions and different formations."

Over Brown's three seasons at Texas Tech, the Red Raiders rushed for 135.5 yards per game and 51 total touchdowns.

Fans who spend any time on social media have likely seen the nearly 11-minute video Brown encourages recruits to watch to demonstrate his offense. Although the touchdown-laced feature is certainly part of his pitch - which he had a chance to practice last week before the recruiting dead period - Brown is turning to something else entirely as his primary mode of persuasion.

"When I talk to people, I sell them on our vision and the number one thing we talk about is that our stadium will have 70,000 people in it," Brown said. "It will. There is a lot of excitement and our fan base is strong. It is going to be an exciting brand of football. It is a young coaching staff that can relate to players."

He has spent a lot of time around Kentucky football and Brown has never seen the mood surrounding it quite like this. He is following suit.

"I wish we had a game this Saturday because the excitement about football in the Big Blue Nation about football is at an all-time high," Brown said. "I really believe that. This state and this university are special to me. This isn't just another job to me. This is personal."

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