SAN ANTONIO — First-year UTSA football coach Jeff Traylor didn't have to go far to find his director of football operations when he was putting together his staff in December and January.
Traylor tapped former Roadrunners offensive coordinator Kevin Brown, who spent last season doing the same job at Boerne High School.
Head coach at Gilmer High School in East Texas before he went to the college ranks in 2015, Traylor forged a warm relationship with Brown, who had recruited Gilmer when he was at UTSA and Texas State.
"Kevin Brown and I were very good friends," Traylor said. "I have a ton of respect for Kevin Brown, his character and reputation, for how he recruits high school coaches in this state."
Given his connection with UTSA, where he was an assistant coach under Larry Coker during the first five seasons of the program, Brown was everything Traylor was looking for in his ops guy.
On the job since January, Brown is relishing his return to UTSA, although he hasn't seen Traylor, his staff and the team in person since before the campus was shut down last month because of the coronavirus. Despite the difficult circumstances, Brown has kept a hectic pace attending meetings remotely via his laptop and staying in constant contact with Traylor.
"The mindset for me when I came back was being able to finish what we started," Brown said, reflecting on Coker's five seasons. "That's why I took the job. It's the same place, but there are a lot of changes that have been going on. You walk into the building, there are bowl pictures up on the wall. There a picture of a first-round pick (Marcus Davenport) up on the wall.
"There have been improvements. I tell you, I'm in the same office I was in four years ago, but the program has evolved. Frank Wilson did a good job of getting them to a bowl, and now it's time to elevate the program where I know we can get it to be."
Traylor, 51, was associate head coach at the University of Arkansas the past two seasons before getting hired to jump-start San Antonio's fledgling FBS program.
Traylor succeeded Wilson, who was fired Dec. 1 after going 19-29 in four seasons. The Roadrunners went to their first bowl in Wilson's first year (2016) and finished 6-5 in 2017, but they fell to 3-9 in 2018 and were 4-8 last season.
Brown, 40, joined Coker's staff at UTSA as tight ends coach in 2011 and was promoted to offensive coordinator the next season. He was the team's OC for four seasons before getting fired by Coker three days after the Roadrunners finished 3-9 in 2015.
Less than a month later, Coker and all of his assistant coaches except wide receivers coach Tony Jeffery were fired. Wison was hired at UTSA in mid-January 2016, landing his first head-coaching job after coaching at LSU the previous six seasons.
"That 2015 season, nobody wanted it to end that way," Brown said. "I always felt like we didn't get to finish what we started. The way this all went down, Coach Traylor called to talk to me about an opportunity to be a part of something at a place I think has a ton of potential."
Before going to Boerne, Brown was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at TMI Episcopal in 2018 and wide receivers coach at Lamar University in 2017.
Brown said he's looking forward to the challenges of his new job, which will entail such responsibilities as coordinating team travel, recruiting visits on campus and housing for players.
"This will be my first job off the field," Brown said. "The job entails pretty much everything outside of the white lines. How's that transition going to be? You know what? I love it so far. It's an opportunity to serve the program.
"Director of football operations, you have your hand in everything – strength and conditioning, equipment, administration, training room, video, helping kids get in the dorms, you can go on down the line. It's just another way to serve these kids. You touch everybody in the program."
More than anything, Brown is savoring the opportunity to get a second chance at UTSA.
"I'm passionate about UTSA," Brown said. "I have been since 2011. I know I'm going back to work with some good people who do it for the right reasons, and I know the potential of this place."
A Waco Midway High School graduate, Brown played wide receiver at TCU for four seasons before earning his degree at the Fort Worth school in 2002. He was a graduate assistant at TCU for three seasons under Gary Patterson.
Brown was wide receivers coach at Texas State for four seasons before joining Coker's staff at UTSA.
Brown's life has changed significantly since his first tenure with the Roadrunners. He and his wife, Erika, have a daughter, Naomi, who turns 2 on Saturday.
"She was an answer to a 10-year prayer," Brown said. "Having a child adds another dimension to your life. You've got to find a way to be on top of your game, and work in at home. And sometimes in this business, in particular, that can be extremely tough.
"So you've got to be very efficient with your time, and understand that it can't all be spent at the office. Sometimes I think that's counterproductive. Larry Coker taught me that. It boils down to this. It's relationships. Period. End of story."