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From cleats to clipboard
Former Eagle RB now on Portal sideline
Georgia Southern fullback Robert Brown crosses the goal line in the first quarter to open the scoring in the Eagles' 48-14 victory over Presbyterian at Paulson Stadium on Oct. 22, 2011. Brown will be on the sidelines this year as a coach at Portal. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    PORTAL — Robert Brown has never been at a loss to produce highlights on the football field.
    This season, his new goal is to help others do the same.
    After a solid career at Georgia Southern – albeit one that was cut short by injury – Brown has graduated and is now a member of the coaching staff at Portal.
    Never one to shy away from contact when the pads were on, Brown is now bringing the same intensity and commitment to his new duties on the sideline.
    “I knew that coaching was definitely something I’d be excited to do,” Brown said. “Right after I graduated in the spring, a friend told me that Portal was looking for coaches. I’m excited that coach (Jon) Willoughby has given me this chance.”
    Brown’s playing days may be over, but his passion for football is still burning hot.
    His ability to teach and keep players motivated will be key as the Panthers enter the season with a small roster that is still looking to replace graduated starters from last season while learning the new schemes being implemented by the new coaching staff.
    “Football is a lot of hard work, but it’s a game that should be fun,” Brown said. “That’s the biggest goal for me. I want to help everyone improve, but I also want to make sure that everyone out here is really loving the game.”
    Despite his new uniform of a t-shirt and shorts instead of pads and a helmet, there are still times where Brown is drawn back to his playing days. Instead of wearing his tennis shoes onto the practice field, Brown routinely laces up the cleats and jumps right into drills.
    In addition to satisfying that competitive fire, Brown also wants to show players what he’s trying to teach and that he’s willing to put himself through anything that he asks of them.
    With over 2,000 career rushing yards for the Eagles – and one memorable overtime touchdown to lift GSU over top-ranked Appalachian State in 2010 – it comes as no surprise that Brown is eager to work with the Panther running backs.
    He’s getting that opportunity along with plenty of other responsibilities as the new coaching staff at Portal is still filling out and is also putting in work with quarterbacks and linebackers.
    Now that he has settled into the day-to-day routine of how to run practices and get players prepared, Brown is ready for the next test.
    “It’s going to be a little different when the lights come on for a game,” Brown said. “I might be a little nervous, but I’m we’re all going to have a job to do out there. We have a few more practices and then it’s time to get things done in the game.”

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.