It defies conventional wisdom in the world of college football recruiting for two coveted high school running backs to sign with the same university in the same year.
Why compete for playing time with another blue-chipper, the thinking goes, when you can go somewhere else and be the featured back?
Steele senior Malcolm Brown and Madison senior Aaron Green, two of the country’s top recruits, don’t quite see things that way.
On the contrary, Brown and Green say they would embrace the opportunity to play in the same college backfield together.
Or, put another way, they’re not ruling out the possibility of being teammates at Texas or Florida State, based on their short list college choices at this point in the recruiting campaign.
While some think the chances of Green and Brown playing college ball together may be slim, you never say never when it comes to recruiting. At any rate, it’s fun just to consider the possibility.
Who knows? Maybe Brown and Green could end up being the 21st century’s version of the “Pony Express,” the nickname given Eric Dickerson and Craig James when they played together at SMU in the late 1970s and early ’80s.
“It would be a lot of fun playing with Aaron,” Brown said Monday. “We’ve talked about it. We could be called 'Thunder and Lightning.'”
Brown, 6 feet and 210 pounds, would bring the “Thunder” with his power and Green (5-11, 185) would provide the "Lightning" with his speed, quickness and elusiveness.
“I think it would be real fun,” Green said. “We talk about it. It would be hard for defenses to stop us.”
Brown, who made an unofficial visit to Alabama with his parents over the weekend, has narrowed his college choices to Alabama, Florida State and Texas.
He said Monday that he plans to commit before the start of the football season, “probably late in the summer.”
Green has winnowed his list to California, Florida State, Nebraska and Texas.
Unlike Brown, Green plans to hold off on his commitment until the fall – at the earliest.
“I plan to take my visits and then I’ll decide,” Brown said.
Brown rushed for 2,170 yards, averaged 10.8 yards per carry, and scored 33 touchdowns in 12 games last season. He was spectacular in Steele’s 27-20 playoff loss to eventual Class 4A Division II state champion Lake Travis, rambling for 299 yards on 35 carries and scoring once.
Green, who hurt his left foot late in his junior season, ran for 1,133 yards and 11 TDs. He averaged 5.87 yards per carry.
Brown and Green keep up with each other by phone and visit in person whenever possible.
“Aaron’s a nice guy and his dad’s a nice guy, too,” Brown said. “Every time I see Aaron, I have a good time. I’ve met his friends and they’re good guys. Aaron is just a very down-to-earth guy.”
Green said he enjoys talking with Brown because he can relate to the pressure that comes with being recruited.
“It’s a blessing to be in the position I’m in, but the recruiting thing can get annoying at times,” Green said. “I talk to Malcolm about how crazy things get sometimes.”
And things are only going to get crazier in the coming months.
For all the obvious reasons – tradition, proximity to San Antonio, prestige, Coach Mack Brown’s personable style, etc. – UT would have to considered a favorite to sign either or both of these standouts.
But, again, you never know.
“I’ve been to Texas a few times and I’m beginning to feel a little more comfortable with them,” Brown said. “I’ve gotten to know the coaches, and they’ve made me feel like they really want me. Coach Brown would get along with anybody.”
No doubt, the Longhorns want Brown and Green badly. Their physical skills and high character – they’re both yes-sir, no-sir young men from rock-solid families – set them apart from most recruits.
While Brown finds UT highly attractive, he made it clear he doesn’t feel bound to remain in the state.
“I didn’t grow up in Texas, so playing out of state wouldn’t be a problem for me,” he said.
Brown, whose father served in the Air Force, was born in Biloxi, Miss. The Browns moved to San Antonio when Malcolm was in the first grade, but relocated to the Washington, D.C., area two years later.
The Brown family has lived in Cibolo since it moved from Washington, D.C., in the summer before Malcolm started the seventh grade at Dobie Junior High in the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD.
Brown said he was impressed with what he saw during his visit to Alabama.
“Everything was nice,” he said. “They have nice facilities and the coaches really got in-depth when they talked to us about the school and the football program. You can tell their passionate about the school.”
And what about Florida State, which will be starting a new era after the retirement last year of iconic coach Bobby Bowden?
“The Florida State coaches have been consistent in calling me from the beginning,” Brown said. “They’ve always kept up with me. They seem real interested. That’s why they’re still in the running.”
A San Antonio native, Green has grown up during UT’s return to prominence in college football.
“Texas is Texas,” Green said. “They’re right down the road, too. I plan to live in Texas after I graduate from college, so that’s something to consider.”
Green said Nebraska is among the schools he’s considering because it’s an “up-and-coming program” with a rich tradition to draw from.
“It’s a humble environment and I like that,” Green said.
Green has spent time in Lincoln, Neb., visiting his brother, Andrew, who will be a redshirt freshman for the Huskers this season.
Will the fact that Andrew, a defensive back, plays for Nebraska sway Aaron’s college choice toward the Huskers?
“No,” Aaron said. “Andrew never has told me anything about going to Nebraska. He knows it’s got to be my choice and that I have to feel right about where I’m going.”
Green said that Nebraska’s decision to leave the Big 12 to play in the Big Ten would not affect his decision.
“It would be weird playing teams like Penn State and Michigan, but football is football,” Green said.
Asked why California and Florida State made his short list, Green said, “I like the way California runs their offense and the way they use their running backs. Florida State has that tradition and I like the things they’ve shown me.”
Green is a member of one of the most prominent families in San Antonio sports history. His father, Tony, and an uncle, Gary Green, football coach at Sam Houston High School, played football at Baylor in the 1970s.
Gary Green, an All-America cornerback at Baylor, went on to an All-Pro career in the NFL and is a member of the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame.
Aaron has another older brother, Tony Jr., who was a football standout at Madison and is now playing at Alabama A&M. And a cousin, Gary Green II, also played at Madison and completed his football career at Kansas in 2008.
Malcolm Brown and Aaron Green have proven to be mature beyond their years so far. They’ve handled the attention well and have remained humble.
That, in itself, is refreshing.