Mack Brown Tried to Recruit Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel as a Defensive Back and Safety


Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns will wrap up a mildly disappointing season Saturday against Kansas State. The Longhorns were considered a Top 15 team in the preseason, but played embarrassing run defense (despite having three players who will go in the first 64 picks in next April’s draft) this year, ranking 105th (201 yards per game) out of 124 teams. Also, their QB play has been poor, an issue that has plagued the team since Colt McCoy graduated.

A loss to Kansas State would drop the Longhorns to 8-4; if they lose a bowl game, that’d be 8-5 and the Longhorns would almost certainly finish the season unranked, the third year in a row that has happened since losing the 2009 BCS title game to Alabama.

Brown, 61, probably doesn’t have to worry about his job yet, but if he struggles again next season, maybe. One of the many knocks against Brown is identifying talent. If Johnny Manziel wins the Heisman trophy, Brown will be known as the coach who tried to recruit the 2011 and 2012 Heisman trophy winners – as defensive backs. Brown wanted Baylor’s RG3 to play in the secondary, and he thought Manziel would make a fine safety. Technically, Mack Brown didn’t even offer Manziel a scholarship:

“Two things about Texas,” answered Smith, “No. 1, Johnny dreamed of playing in Austin. He absolutely loved Texas I guess from when he was a little kid. If Texas had offered him a scholarship even as an offensive lineman, he would have taken it.

“Texas offered nothing. I’ve seen it written where they offered as a DB, but that’s not true. Johnny would have gone, believe me.

“But the second thing is to give a lot of credit to Duane Akina [Mack’s assistant head coach and defensive backs coach]. Duane worked it hard. He became totally convinced Johnny was a quarterback who could play at that level. He really wanted Johnny.

“When it comes to recruiting, of course, Duane had to then sell Johnny to the offensive staff, and in the end, to Mack. He couldn’t make that sell because Johnny didn’t fit the dimensions. I know they regret it now, but Duane is off the hook, for sure.”

[UPDATENo, Texas and Mack Brown didn’t technically offer Manziel, But Texas recruited him as a defensive back. Former Texas coordinator Will Muschamp confirmed this.] Griffin, another Texas high school star, was thought to be an “athlete” by Mack Brown.

“Texas did not recruit me as a quarterback,” Griffin said. “But they walked into my [high school] coach’s office and placed an offer on the table as an ‘athlete,’ then walked out, so I never saw them.”

Here’s a link that claims Brown wanted Griffin as a receiver. Ask Texas columnists, and they say Brown wanted Griffin as a defensive back. It’s basically a running a joke.