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July 7, 2006

On campus and getting ready for action

Moe Brown used to be a Clemson fan. Not anymore.

Brown, one of the top wide receivers in the Palmetto State last season, grew up in Anderson, S.C., dreaming of playing college football for the Tigers.

But when Clemson showed disinterest in his abilities, he looked elsewhere. After flirtations with Tennessee and Maryland, he happily signed with the Gamecocks.

Now Brown dreams of earning the starring role in a similar rags-to-riches story first performed by Sidney Rice last season.

No matter what, Brown expects to make a significant contribution this season.

"After getting through working out, I've been watching film, recognizing formations and coverages and learning the routes," Brown said. "The coaches have said they want me to get ready to play this year and that I could start out the season as high as third on the depth chart."

His goal is to become a starter by mid-season, Brown said.

"I think I've grasped the offense pretty well," Brown said. "I've been working with the guys in the 7-on-7's and they've been a big help toward me gaining a better understanding of the offense and helping me get ready to play this year."

Brown soon discovered that Steve Spurrier's offense is far more complex than anything he had in high school. It challenges quarterbacks and receivers to quickly recognize coverages and adapt their routes.

"Whatever type of coverage the defense uses, we have something to counter it," Brown said. "I like that. It keeps you from getting your head knocked off by a big SEC linebacker coming across the middle. You have to know a lot of coverages but that's college for you."

After Rice (70 receptions for 1,143 yards in 2005) and Kenny McKinley (25 receptions for 291 yards in 2005), USC desperately needs a third wide receiver to emerge to take some of the pressure off. Brown says he has the ability to become that receiver.

Brown understands that opposing secondaries will likely choose to double team Rice until McKinley and another receiver step up and make catches.

"That's been one of the biggest discussion topics this summer," Brown said. "We're trying to find ways to prevent Sidney from getting double-teamed. All of the great receivers have someone to complement them. Kenny and I should be able to step up and be more effective than most people expect. Especially me, because I'll be flying under the radar. I don't think many people know that much about me. I think I'll be able to surprise some people."

Of course, Brown doesn't foresee matching the numbers put up by Rice last season in his initial season of SEC football. But he expects to do well.

"It's going to be hard to have that type of season," Brown said. "That just shows how effective this offense is. But I plan on having a significant impact on the offense. If they put me in 1-and-1 situations, I think I'll be prepared. I think I'll catch something around 30 balls."

Brown feels he can surprise opponents with his speed. His fastest time in the 40-yard dash is 4.38 seconds.

"They keep saying I'm a possession receiver and that I'm really not a deep threat," Brown said. "I think I'm the opposite. I can be a possession receiver and get the first down. But I think I'm more of a deep threat. Most of my touchdowns in high school came on streak routes. I guess I'll just have to show them. In the 7-on-7's, I've run by the cornerbacks a couple of times when they've been pressing me."

Brown appreciates Spurrier's straightforward, no-nonsense style in dealing with college players.

"He's not going to B.S. around with you," Brown said. "He tells you exactly the way it is. His constructive criticism helps you build character. You can deal with anything."

Brown was a star at Westside High School in Anderson, leading the Rams to a 11-2 record and the regional championship, and eagerly waited for a scholarship offer from Clemson, his favorite boyhood team.

It never came. Brown spoke with the Tigers' coaching staff on several occasions but soon grew suspicious of their sincerity in recruiting him.

"I grew up a Clemson fan but they really didn't recruit me that much," Brown said. "One of their coaches called me and asked me to come to a camp the day after it was over. I didn't think that was very smart. Basically, all I got was a couple of cards in the mail. So I said screw 'em, it wouldn't bother me to go to South Carolina and beat them."

So, he looked elsewhere. The recruiting battle quickly boiled down to Tennessee and USC. Following the 2005 season in which USC went 7-5 and Tennessee failed to qualify for a bowl game for the first time since 1988, Brown said the choice was easy.

"I had a real problem with Tennessee because they came into the season ranked fairly high nationally and they had a 5-6 season," Brown said. "I knew there was talent there. So I figured there must be a coaching problem. I didn't want to be a part of that."

Brown didn't give North Carolina much consideration either even though his brother, Martez, runs track for the Tar Heels.

Brown completed his high school career by representing South Carolina in the Shrine Bowl along with fellow USC signees Garrett Anderson and Rodney Paulk.

"We got along well," Brown said. "Rodney is going to be one of my roommates. Garrett is wide open. They're real good guys."

Brown led all Sandlapper receivers with seven receptions for 85 yards in South Carolina's 28-24 loss last December to North Carolina.

After graduation, Brown started his rigorous workout regime. He came to Columbia and worked out with the rest of the football team for the last two weeks in June before returning to Anderson for the final time this past weekend prior to the start of classes on July 5.

He will be taking two classes during the second semester of summer school.

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