It took some time for Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Montaric “Buster” Brown to receive the phone call that will change his life forever.
The anxiety levels were “pretty high,” Brown told BigCatCountry last week via a phone interview. Still, to be selected at all was all that mattered for the former Arkansas Razorbacks CB. To join the ranks of the elite, and fulfill his dreams, that’s all that matters.
“I had family and friends around me just calming me down and just making sure I had a good mind and they were keeping me excited,” Brown said of waiting around to be selected on Day 3. “But when that time came ... I waited a long time - I wasn’t expected to wait that long, but I just trusted it and I’m excited to be drafted during that time.
“It was a dream come true. You see other guys growing up, going through this process and you know, just seeing them get that number called. And for me to get that number called, man, it was just unbelievable,” Brown said, having played football since middle school.
Brown was selected with the Jaguars’ final pick of the draft, pick No. 222. Brown reiterated that it didn’t matter when he was selected, of course, everyone wants to go higher than they actually do, but what mattered was that he was selected and his dreams could be fulfilled.
“Seeing that Jacksonville number pop up on my phone, I just got excited. And I knew my dreams were about to come true. So I’m just thankful to the organization for believing in me and drafting me.”
Brown finished his career at Arkansas as a First Team All-SEC CB, finishing with 34 starts and 42 games played. He posted 132 tackles, four tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, 23 pass breakups and seven total interceptions.
His five interceptions in 2021 as a redshirt senior led the SEC. He would lead the team in pass breakups, too. According to Pro Football Focus, Brown allowed the third-lowest passer rating in man coverage at just 17.5.
Lowest passer rating allowed in man coverage last season— PFF College (@PFF_College) March 14, 2022
Ahmad Gardner: 12.0
Kyler Gordon: 12.8
Montaric Brown: 17.5 pic.twitter.com/813yHtqKPj
Playing the boundary CB position wasn’t always what Brown thought he’d do, though. Coming out of high school, Brown was ranked as the No. 18 safety in the 2017 recruiting class and the No. 1 recruit in the state of Arkansas. It wasn’t until after his redshirt season in 2017 that Brown was changed to CB, with the DB coach at the time, Ron Cooper, making the switch.
“He (Cooper) just saw something in me to change me to corner. Since I changed to corner it just took off for me,” Brown said. “I believed in him, I didn’t question it. So, whatever he needed me to do, I did it. And it panned out good for me in the end.”
That, of course, led to Brown having the best season of his career at Arkansas, as alluded to earlier. Though he could have come back to the program for a sixth season, he opted to leave, feeling like he did all that he wanted to do for the Razorbacks, “so it was just my time to go.”
During his career with the Razorbacks, Brown went through three different head coaches, not including the interim coaches. That included Bret Bielema, who initially recruited Brown to Arkansas, Chad Morris (2017-19) and finally Sam Pittman.
There’s no question, though that the latest staff, including Pittman, former Razorbacks cornerbacks coach Sam Carter and defensive coordinator Barry Odom got the best out of Brown.
“I was just so thankful for them to come in, it was a different mentality once that staff came in,” Brown acknowledged. “We had the hard work, blue-collar, chip mentality once Sam Pittman came in.
“So I’m just thankful to have coach Odom and coach Carter come in and change my perspective on the game and help me throughout the game. Having them, improved my game a lot. And it took off for me my last year.”
Certainly, Brown’s game did improve. His final two seasons at Arkansas would be his best seasons, accounting for an average defensive grade of 70.9, according to Pro Football Focus. His previous high was in 2019 with a grade of 61.1.
Perhaps his shining moment as a member of the Razorbacks would come last year when the team faced off against LSU in Death Valley. With the game tied at 13 in overtime, Brown would pick off LSU quarterback Garrett Nussmeier in the endzone, giving the Razorbacks an opportunity to kick a game-winning field goal. And so they did, defeating the Tigers 16-13.
️ "INTERCEPTED BY @lockdown_2121 ‼️— Hogs Plus (@HogsPlus) November 16, 2021
See the behind-the-scenes moments from @RazorbackFB's impressive win in Death Valley on this week's episode of The Follow ⤵️
Sign up here: https://t.co/sjG8W70MMv pic.twitter.com/JjRaloynNP
“That moment was one of the biggest moments in my career ... They knew about me after that moment,” said Brown, speaking of the masses that perhaps overlooked him throughout the year. “Just practicing and just doing, trusting the game plan and trusting my coaches, you know, putting me in a position and I’m just thankful we got the (win).”
Prior to Pittman’s arrival, Arkansas had won a combined eight games over the first three years Brown was with the program. After a three-win season in 2020, the program would balloon to a stellar nine wins in 2021. That type of turnaround required a lot of buy-in from the players, a blueprint that Pittman and his staff were able to present to the players.
“We believed in it, you know, we came together, we got close as a team and it just took off for me.”
The Jaguars are in a similar position. After several regime changes, the franchise feels as though they’ve finally hired the right staff under head coach Doug Pederson. Now, the team will need to come together and buy into the program, understanding the blueprint laid out in front of them.
Brown says that’s exactly what his mentality is after being selected in the seventh round by Jacksonville. And after going through something very similar with the Razorbacks, he feels he certainly can help.
“I’m treating it the same exactly because the Jaguars are trying to improve and get the program in the right direction,” he said. “And that’s what we did in Arkansas. So I feel like I can do the same thing, help the Jaguars improve and get the program in the right direction.”
Of course, that won’t just be up to a rookie, but Brown is undeniably confident in his abilities and says that Jacksonville is getting a “savvy, competitive” player that doesn’t like losing and is simply ready to compete.
“I don’t like losing, I’m ready to compete, show [them] they got the right guy, they picked the right guy in the draft and I’m just ready to come in. My goal is to come in and earn a starting spot and win rookie of the year and win a Super Bowl. So I set the expectations high, and that’s my expectation, that’s my goals.”