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How Keenen Brown Evolved From Receiver to Cowboy Back



Keenen Brown’s 247Sports profile lists him at 205 pounds out of high school. Three years later, the Oklahoma State roster has him exactly 45 pounds heavier.

Brown was a four-star receiver out of Alief Taylor High School in Houston. He held 20 offers from the likes of Oklahoma, LSU and Wisconsin. Simply, a stud. But he wouldn’t make it as a receiver.

Brown broke his foot before his freshman season, which held him out of just about all football-related activities. Cowboy backs coach Jason McEndoo said what happened next was fairly understandable.

“Our training table is unbelievable,” McEndoo said. “It’s five-star meals, man. So he started eating, and I just made a little joke with him: ‘Hey, Keenen, better stay away from that bacon, dude, biscuits and gravy,’ McEndoo said.

“Ahh, pshhh, whatever, coach.” Brown blew it off.

But in the time Brown was out with the foot injury, he gained some weight and ended up at 240 pounds, McEndoo said. That prompted Brown’s then-position coach, Kasey Dunn, to make a visit to the office down the hall.

McEndoo said Dunn told him Brown was getting too heavy to line up out wide but needed to keep eating and move inside, a move that would be like trying to make a dog a cat.

“Making the transition from Z receiver to tight end, that’s like taking a kid that plays corner and making him a defensive end,” McEndoo said. “That’s a different world inside the tackle box.”

Brown said he was fine with the move because it gave him loads of “versatility” to move around the field from receiver, to tight end to the backfield. But he also said that move came with some unexpected challenges.

“You gotta learn the defensive line, the linebackers,” Brown said. “At receiver, all I had to do was learn the coverages, maybe what technique the corner was in.”

It’s been mostly all smiles though for Brown, playing under McEndoo. He hasn’t played as much as he probably should have, as coach Mike Gundy says from time to time, but that was mostly because he had an NFL talent in front of him.

After seeing Blake Jarwin work and succeed at OSU and early in his professional career with the Dallas Cowboys, Brown said he is proud of Jarwin and is encouraged by watching it all. And it’s all amplified because of McEndoo’s impact since Brown got to Stillwater as part of the 2014 recruiting class.

“He’s probably my favorite coach I’ve ever had,” Brown said. “He teaches everything. He gets into the ‘What if,’ and all that.”

None of that would have happened if not for that foot injury. McEndoo said Brown has filled out in the weight room and grown into a “man body,” but it all started with an injury, a joke and a few too many trips to the kitchen.

“He literally ate himself into a cowboy back,” McEndoo said. OSU might be glad he did come this fall given that he is their primary pass-catching cowboy back and could be an X-factor on offense.

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