At the University of Texas, winning football games is assumed. With a wealth of local talent entering the program each year, fielding an elite team is the annual expectation. But the Longhorns have been struggling to meet those standards. In the five seasons since losing to Alabama in the 2009 National Championship game, Texas has averaged 7.2 wins per season. Not a single Texas player was drafted in 2014, and that hadn't happened since 1937.
Defensive tackle Malcom Brown, a prized recruit from Brenham, Texas, spent the last three years battling in the trenches for the Longhorns. He battled through lopsided losses. He battled through constant double-teams. He never stopped battling, which made a lasting impression on Texas head coach Charlie Strong, the man who replaced Mack Brown in 2014.
"He works so hard," Strong said of Brown as his team endured a 6-7 season.
Brown explained why at the Scouting Combine.
"It means a lot, because you're representing the state of Texas," Brown said. "There's a lot of things you're representing besides yourself. So you can't go out there and just play selfish. You can't just go there and be an extra body in the locker room when somebody else can have a scholarship that wants to play.
"It means a lot to people that play hard, because we were representing our families, too," added Brown, who is married and has two daughters. "I'm going to give my all."
Brown's workmanlike approach to the game made him the player he is. His practice habits were lauded by Strong and used as an example for others to follow.
"I go out and I have fun. I don't go in with the mindset that it's going to be a hard practice," Brown said. "Offense is going to have a hard time blocking me. I'm going to get them in trouble. I'm going push them to do better. Coaches know I'm going practice hard."
Brown started every game each of the past two seasons and was a consensus first-team All-American as a junior after leading the Longhorns with 6.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.
Now he'll likely be a first or second-round pick and the first Longhorn drafted since 2013.
"I haven't really thought about that," Brown said. "I'm just trying to do something for me and my family and get on a team and help them out."