Former Mississippi State LB Richie Brown talks future in Tampa, past in Starkville
TAMPA — After seven rounds of the NFL Draft, former Mississippi State linebacker Richie Brown wasn’t taken.
However, he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent and is participating in their three-day rookie mini camp. All Brown can do at this point is impress his new coaching staff.
He was the top tackler in Starkville each of the last two seasons, eclipsing 100 stops both times. Unfortunately, Brown’s career wasn’t rewarded with an invite to the Senior Bowl — he played in the East-West Shrine Game instead — or Scouting Combine. His odds of making the final roster are long.
The Bucs already have two quality ‘backers on the payroll in Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander, plus they selected LSU’s Kendell Beckwith in Round 3, but Brown picked Tampa over several other options.
Brown talked to Saturday Down South about the draft, his NFL future and some of his MSU teammates.
SDS: How did you spend draft weekend? Did you anxiously watch every pick, or did you try to get away from the television and just let your agent keep you in the loop?
RB: I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention to it. I mean, obviously I had my phone on me. But I was just hanging out with family and friends, eating crawfish, playing around with the little kids that were there, just hanging out and trying to relax.
SDS: When Round 7 arrives, do you even want to be chosen anymore? As an undrafted free agent, at least you have some power regarding where you’ll end up, right?
RB: After about Round 5, you start to kinda think that. You’re like, Well, at this point, it’s really not that big of a money difference. It’s almost you want to pick where you get to go after that point, so it did work out good and I did get to pick where I went. So I went away around Round 7 to a quiet room and started taking phone calls.
SDS: Aside from Tampa Bay, which teams were showing you the most interest after the draft had concluded?
RB: There was probably about 10 that I got phone calls from that day, all pretty quickly. The rest of them I had to tell, “I already signed.” But it was the Dolphins, Ravens, Vikings, Bengals, Browns, Jaguars, Saints — some of those type of teams.
SDS: So why the Buccaneers?
RB: I just felt like this was the best fit for me, for multiple reasons. I like the coaching staff here. I’ve gotten to know them pretty well. I know the area really well. I feel like this is a good fit schematically, defensive scheme-wise for me. I feel like I’ve done a lot of this defense already for four or five years now, so I just felt comfortable making the decision to come here.
SDS: If you’re going to make this roster, then you better be able to play special teams. What kind of special-teams experience did you gain in college, and is there one phase in particular where you feel like you excel?
RB: I played all special teams. I played every position in college. Even when I was a veteran, I did practice on special teams. Even when they didn’t let me play special teams my junior and senior year, but I still did all the reps in practice. So that’s something at Mississippi State we stressed a lot with special teams and staying on top of that, so I feel adequately prepared to come out here and play special teams.
SDS: It’s the fourth preseason game. A genie pops out of a bottle and will grant you one of two wishes: Either you can intercept a pass on defense or block a punt on special teams. Which would better increase your odds of making the club?
RB: Depends which one I score on.
SDS: Outside of Starkville, most people only know Jeffery Simmons for the egregious mistake he made prior to his freshman season. You were around him for a year. Since he hasn’t been given much of an opportunity to talk to the media, what’s he like?
RB: I love Jeffrey. He’s been doing awesome. I’ve gotten to know him really well, and he does have a good heart. And he’s a great ballplayer, as well. He goes hard. He’s been doing a lot of things in the community around Starkville to, obviously, try to help people to see the true side of him. We’ve all fallen short, so it’s just something that you just gotta keep working, keep grinding, keep playing ball and making the right decisions.
SDS: Another former teammate of yours that has fans very excited is Cameron Dantzler, who redshirted a season ago and is now ready to play. He had a big spring game, too. What kind of player do you see?
RB: He’s a great ballplayer. He’s very athletic, very quick. So, I mean, I think he’s gonna have a big impact, hopefully. Yeah, he did have a really good spring game. I was there watching it with Dak Prescott and Fred Ross, and it was a great game. I think he’s gonna do something special, I hope.
SDS: You’re already married. You earned both your degree and your master’s at Mississippi State. Unlike a lot of players, you have options, not to mention responsibilities right now. Are they going to have to rip this jersey off you one day, whether it’s a practice squad or in Canada or the arena league, or does this professional football thing have to take pretty quickly?
RB: As long as that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I’ll pray about it, and if that’s what I think I’m led to do, then, yeah, I will claw, scratch and fight and do everything I can with my hands for the Lord. So if that’s what I’m supposed to do, then, yeah, I will claw and scratch and fight to play football.
SDS: When it’s all said and done, be it a year from now or a decade, how do you want your football biography to be written?
RB: I want it to go down as, obviously, a really good linebacker. A hard worker. Somebody that loves the game, and somebody that loves to play football, loves to make plays.