Paul Chryst turns to NFL ranks to hire new running backs coach

JIM POLZIN [email protected]

The University of Wisconsin football program named Gary Brown, who has a history in the NFL as a coach and player, as its running backs coach.

Brown replaces John Settle, who left for Kentucky earlier this month.

Brown was the running backs coach for the Dallas Cowboys from 2013-19. He sat out last season while battling cancer, according to a story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

“Gary is really an impressive person. Everyone I know that has worked with Gary speaks very highly of him and has loved working with him,” UW coach Paul Chryst said in a statement Thursday. “I look forward to our staff being able to work with him, and I’m really excited that our players will get to learn from him. He brings great experience at both the collegiate and professional level and is a heck of a good football coach.”

DeMarco Murray (2014) and Ezekiel Elliott (2016, ’18) led the NFL in rushing while Brown was an assistant in Dallas.

Brown also spent four seasons as an assistant with the Cleveland Browns prior to his time with the Cowboys.

“I’m excited about being part of the Badger family because of the tradition that’s been established over the years,” Brown said in a statement. “They’re one of the best programs in the Big Ten, and obviously they like to run the ball and run it very well. As a running backs coach, that certainly appealed to me. They’ve had a long line of great, great tailbacks and it’s an honor for me to contribute to carrying on that tradition.

“If you’re a running back guy, you’re very aware of what they’re doing at Wisconsin and you study their tape and their backs. In my work in the NFL, we’ve scouted them all. I’ve always been very impressed with how those guys go about their business and how they leave Wisconsin as truly complete tailbacks.”

Brown played at Penn State, leading the Nittany Lions in rushing as a sophomore in 1988. He went on to an eight-year NFL career that included a breakout season in 1993, when he rushed for 1,002 yards and six touchdowns in eight games with the Houston Oilers.

He later rushed for a career-high 1,063 yards with the New York Giants in 1998.

Brown’s other coaching stops include spending the 2006 season with the Green Bay Packers as part of the NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship program.

Brown inherits a running back room in transition.

Freshman Jalen Berger led the team in rushing last season and is likely to be the lead back, but there’s little experience behind him. Garrett Groshek, a reliable reserve over the past four seasons, is trying his hand at the NFL and Nakia Watson is in the transfer portal.

Julius Davis and Isaac Guerendo join Berger as returning tailbacks; the 2021 recruiting class features Verona’s Jackson Acker, Eau Claire’s Loyal Crawford and Antwan Roberts out of Tennessee.

John Chenal and Quan Easterling return to man the fullback spots.

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