Just like starting over

IAN BUSBY, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

Brandon Browner's NFL career took a dive with one forgettable hit.

A hopeful in the 2005 Denver Broncos training camp, Browner avoided a block from an offensive lineman but his arm slapped against the giant's leg.

"My whole life changed just like that," said the Calgary Stampeders prospect of a fracture he suffered.

"They put me in IR to rehab for the whole season. When that was done and I was ready, I came to mini-camp for a couple of weeks. Then I got that call to let me know they made a move."

Denver needed to make roster room and it was the first time Browner was cut at any level. He was devastated.

The defensive back was a monster in two seasons at Oregon State -- even named Pac-10 freshman of the year -- which made the decision to declare early for the NFL draft an easy one.

Although he wasn't selected despite being projected as a mid-rounder, Browner has no regrets about the decision he made to leave school early.

"It would be my rookie year if I would have stayed in college," said the 22-year-old, who had a son with his girlfriend five months ago.

"You could say it was a mistake but I knew what was going to happen. I was having academic problems at Oregon State.

"I had to test my stock in the NFL or else I was going to end up at a (junior college) somewhere. I didn't want that to happen.

"Going from Div. 1 to a JC doesn't look good. I had to take my chances with the NFL. I wish I stayed on top of my academics better.

"It's been two years and you think, 'Maybe I should have done this or that.' But it happened and it's done. I don't look at it as a regret because I'm here and ready to play."

Browner doesn't look much like a CFL defensive back at 6 ft. 4 in. and 220 lb. Usually a defensive back with his size can make the NFL if he possesses average speed but Browner feels he just needed the right break.

He may not get that with the Stampeders because the team returns all five starters from last year's secondary in J.R. Ruffin, Trey Young, Sadrick Williams, Jermaine Chatman and Coby Rhinehart. Nickelback Crance Clemons is back, as well.

Still, Browner believed it was worth leaving his family behind in California just for the chance to get back into the game he loves.

"It was hard leaving them but I know I'm here for a job," Browner said. "I need to get some money to support my son.

"I'm here to help the team win but this is my nine to five.

"I look at it both ways. I miss them but this is for them."


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