LINCOLN, Neb. — It’s a quiet July evening in Memorial Stadium. Well, mostly quiet. While the bleachers sit empty and the big screen dark, Huskers senior kicker Drew Brown and his brother Reed stand at midfield laughing.
It’s the day before Nebraska’s Uplifting Athletes Road Race and Reed, a freshman track man at the University of Oregon, is in town to run it. Drew is running it too, mostly because of a bet he made and lost on Twitter. He asks Reed for help, but Reed is less than enthused at the idea. Reed wants to win.
“No, you’re running with me. Don’t win,” Drew tells Reed. “Don’t be that guy. You have to pace me.”
Reed committed to the Ducks last October for cross country and track and field, despite his brother Drew kicking for the Nebraska football team. His half-brother Kris Brown also kicked for the Huskers.
It was expected Reed would consider Nebraska. He did. But Oregon was the right fit.
“I would definitely say my love for running and probably most toward outdoor track [led me to Oregon],” Reed said. “I felt they had the best team that I would fit in with so that’s pretty much [what I] went off of, obviously with academics and the feel of the campus as well.
“But the outdoor track sold it for me.”
As Reed discusses Oregon, Drew positions two holders on the field — one for him and one for Reed. The duo have agreed this day to compete in what the other excels at, so the brothers are preparing to kick field goals and run a 40-yard dash.
Reed notes that his holder has to be positioned to kick with his left foot. He’s right-handed, but he kicks and bats left. Drew listens as Reed explains his ambidexterity before chiming in.
“My left side is terrible,” Drew said.
He then offers to kick with his left leg to give Reed a chance. The two start laughing again.
There was a brief moment when Reed could have become a kicker. He always preferred running, but he had the opportunity in middle school to follow in Drew’s footsteps.
While playing football for Carroll Middle School in Southlake, Texas, Reed had his moment in the spotlight when Carroll’s starting kicker was injured. That moment was short-lived.
“Well, I messed up twice that game and both of them were substantial,” Reed said.
The first error came on the opening kickoff. Reed was instructed to do what is called a ‘pooch kick.’ This style of kick requires the player to kick the ball hard into the ground, hoping it pops up high into the air.
It worked the first time Reed tried it.
“We had our tallest guys just run and go grab it to recover,” Reed said. “But it was so loud in the stadium, I accidentally kicked it before the referee blew the whistle.”
While Carroll initially recovered, Reed was forced to try it again. On the second go-around, he wasn’t as successful and his team failed to recover.
As for the other mistake made that day, Reed was tasked with scoring the extra point to tie the game after a touchdown.
“And he missed the extra point,” Drew said.
Everyone in Southlake knew Reed’s name after that game.
“That’s where his kicking career started,” Drew said.
Reed laughs. “And ended.”
Follow Drew on Twitter and you’ll quickly notice that he loves to support his friends and family. He can often be found celebrating the accomplishments of his teammates, his niece and nephews and, of course, Reed.
Reed calls him observant and outgoing, two traits that help him stay up-to-date with everyone in his life. It’s a blessing for someone like Reed.
“He’s a very good support system,” Reed said. “He also is good about knowing about events and what people are doing around him.”
In fact, as the pair stands on the sidelines of Memorial Stadium on that warm July night, Drew checks in with Reed. He knows what it’s like to go away from home for college. He wants to be sure Reed feels OK about everything.
Reed pauses, but smiles at his brother. He feels fine. He already has a lot of friends at Oregon thanks to cross country and track and field. He isn’t worried.
Drew nods in agreement.
“You’ll have more friends there then when I got here,” Drew said.
That’s just how Drew is. While he’ll turn 22 years old at the end of October, he’s an “old soul.” If a someone wants or needs to talk, he’ll stay up all night doing so.
In many ways, Drew is the cheerleader of his family.
“But am I an annoying cheerleader?” Drew asks.
Reed smiles and shakes his head no.
Come Saturday, Reed has a decision to make. Will he cheer for his new home or will he cheer for his brother?
“I don’t know. I’m still deciding,” Reed said. “My heart will probably always be in Nebraska because I’ve been here a lot in my life, but going to Oregon makes it a tough choice. We’ll see.”
Drew, who was only half-listening to Reed’s answer, stops. He wants Reed to repeat what he said.
“I guess that’s better than already saying Oregon,” Drew said.
The two start joking about Reed’s options. Maybe he could bring two shirts to the game and switch them out when Drew is on the field. Drew seems OK with this possibility.
But there’s also the suggestion of a half-and-half shirt. One side could be Oregon, while the other is Nebraska.
The conversation quickly dissolves into a variety of random topics. That’s how this duo operates. While they may be separated by distance and school allegiances, little else can keep them apart.
They’re brothers, but more importantly friends. So regardless of what t-shirt Reed wears on Saturday, he knows he’ll be cheering for Drew. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
But for now, on a quiet night within the confines of Memorial Stadium, the two just laugh as their voices fill the night air. In that moment, nothing else matters.
Well, except for who’s going to win the field-goal kicking contest and 40-yard dash.
The post Nebraska vs. Oregon: Drew and Reed Brown separated by schools, but not by brotherhood and friendship appeared first on Land of 10.