Athlete finds appreciation in Mankato, not Manhattan

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 25, 2011 - 12:18 AM

LaMark Brown had to sit out a year when Kansas State wouldn't release him, but the WR is loving the Mavericks.

Minnesota State Mankato wide receiver LaMark Brown

The folks who truly admire Bill Snyder would have to agree that he's dictatorial. Those that are more objective toward the Kansas State football coach might use a harsher term.

LaMark Brown could be in that group, although not in a conversation with a reporter that he met only a moment earlier.

Brown is a wide receiver for Minnesota State Mankato. He appears to have the skills for a higher league -- and for good reason.

He was a four-year starter at safety and running back for Hazelwood (Mo.) West High. He made Missouri's Class 6 all-state teams.

"I was recruited by most of the schools in the Big 12 North, and some others," Brown said. "I was recruited by Minnesota. As it turned out, I took only one visit -- to K-State."

The Wildcats' convincing sales pitch came from Ron Prince and his staff.

Brown played briefly as a wide receiver as a true freshman in 2007. A year later, he played the first three games at wide receiver, then was switched to running back.

He missed three games because of a staph infection that season, yet there were some promising final numbers for the 6-3, 220-pound Brown: 118 carries for 412 yards and five touchdowns rushing, with 24 receptions for 178 yards and another touchdown.

And then Prince was fired. Snyder came out of retirement and returned to coach the Wildcats.

Brown went back to wide receiver as a junior, where he caught 18 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns. His playing time was spotty, at best.

"It was a situation where with Bill Snyder as the coach I wasn't going to reach my goals as an athlete," Brown said.

Brown informed the coaches that he was going to transfer. Todd Hoffner and his staff at MSU Mankato were told about Brown through St. Louis connections.

Among the things that made MSU Mankato intriguing to Brown was this: He would be moving to Division II, so he could be eligible in 2010. Except ...

"Bill Snyder wouldn't give me a release, so I had to sit out last season," Brown said. "I was able to practice here last season, but not being able to play ... that stunk."

Repeat that: Snyder wouldn't grant a release to a player who wanted to play Division II football?

"Apparently, if you're a K-State player that never gave him any trouble, then Snyder wants you around and won't give a release," said Brown, shrugging his shoulder pads after MSU Mankato's 57-34 victory at Concordia (St. Paul) on Saturday.

The no-trouble part of Brown's story doesn't surprise Hoffner, the Mavericks' fourth-year coach.

"LaMark's a great kid," Hoffner said. "He gives us leadership with his approach to being a teammate. I'm not sure we could have this same outstanding attitude as a team without the presence of LaMark."

The Mavericks were looking for a third victory in a row in the Northern Sun Conference. The expectation was that Concordia could stay competitive on this homecoming afternoon at its shiny, three-year-old Sea Foam Stadium.

No such luck.

The Mavericks jumped ahead 13-0 in the first quarter, then scored four touchdowns in an eight-minute stretch of the second quarter to make it 41-0. The carnage was assisted by an officiating crew that had an irresistible urge to flag the home team for 15-yard penalties.

Jon Daniels, a lefty transfer from Nebraska-Omaha, hit Brown when needed a couple of times, but mostly the Mavericks threw it short, ran the ball and moved at will.

Any problem with getting only two catches for 39 yards, LaMark?

"Not at all," Brown said. "We got a nice lead in the first half and didn't really show all of what we can do as an offense. It's a long season, with some tough games in front of us."

The toughies start with Winona State and St. Cloud State on the next two Saturdays.

Dennis Carter had a bigger day vs. Concordia, catching seven passes for 92 yards and running 10 yards for a touchdown. Andy Pfeiffer is the primary ball carrier, but receivers Carter, Brown and Adam Thielen also slip into the backfield to run the ball.

"We have a lot of weapons, and Omaha dropping football and Jon Daniels transferring here, the way he throws the ball ..." Carter said. "That was like getting the best-ever Christmas present."

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500ESPN.


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