In 35 years of coaching, Zane Vance says he can count on one hand the number of football players who impacted a team – and his mood – the way Solomon Brown did at Charleston Southern.
Vance, CSU's defensive coordinator and interim head coach, admits he dreaded the day Brown would no longer be a member of the Buccaneers' program.
“I started looking at the calendar, and I can honestly say I started to feel it kind of weighing on me. Twenty days turned to 15 days, and then 10…” he said.
That type of impact is why Vance thinks the star linebacker can wow a few NFL scouts when Charleston Southern hosts a Pro Day in the coming weeks.
The school is in the midst of a head coaching change, so a firm date has not been set. But once it is, Brown will be ready to show what he’s got.
Brown, a 6-1, 235-pound senior, will play in Saturday’s Tropical Bowl, a college football all-star game in Daytona Beach, Fla.
For details on how to watch, visit www.tropicalbowl.com/tv
Most of the players participating in the Tropical Bowl are from major colleges at the FBS level.
“Playing against those guys will be great, but we all have an equal shot once we’re out there,” he said. “That’s my focus. Just playing my game and showing what I can do.”
The Bucs struggled through a 5-6 season, but Brown was one of the highlights. He ranked eighth in the Big South Conference in tackles (88 total) and tied for second in forced fumbles and recovered fumbles. He had 17 tackles for loss in 2018.
Following his final game in blue and gold, Brown decided to take the spring semester off so he could begin training for the NFL.
It’s a long shot, even for stars from bigger programs. But he wouldn’t be the first former Charleston Southern player to go pro.
In March 2017, offensive tackle Erik Austell became the first former CSU player to get an invite to the NFL Combine before spending a season with the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans.
Others who broke into the league include wide receiver Maurice Price and defensive back Charles James.
“It would be a dream come true,” he said. “Playing football at the highest level is a huge goal for me, so my focus has been training and getting myself ready.”
If it doesn’t pan out, Brown plans to attend Clemson to pursue an engineering degree.
Vance thinks his star linebacker could find success with Plan A, and chuckles at the thought of someone filling those shoes next year at CSU.
“You can try and emulate," he said. "But you don’t replace a Solomon Brown.”