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C.C. Brown
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I Root For: North Texas
Location: Great State of Texas
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Thought you Cajuns would enjoy reading about one of your former players that is making a name for himself in the Texans camp.

<a href='http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/sports/fb/texans/3303993' target='_blank'>Houston Chronicle Link</a>

Soldier waits for duty's call
Rookie safety C.C. Brown's thoughts are divided between practice and his fellow Mississippi National Guardsmen in Afghanistan
By MEGAN MANFULL
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle
RESOURCES

KEY DATES
• Aug. 13: Preseason: Denver 20, Texans 14
• Aug. 20: Texans 19, Oakland 17
• Aug. 27: Preseason game at Dallas
• Sept. 1: Preseason game at Tampa Bay
• Sept. 11: Season opener at Buffalo
• Sept. 18: Home opener vs. Pittsburgh

MULTI-MEDIA
LISTEN: McClain's Report: Texans finish camp, prepare for Dallas
AUDIO:
Justice & McClain:
• Texans and the plans for offensive line
• Why Eagles should, but won't cut T.O.
• Preview of the 2005 NFL season
Texans QB David Carr:
• On offensive execution

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• Houston's Swinton scores TD


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

TEXANS STAT CENTER
• Final Scores
• Texans schedule
• Roster
• Depth chart
• Team stats
• Transactions
• Injuries
• Chronicle story archive

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



SPORTS POLL
What's your take on the T.O. situation?


Eagles should release him
Eagles, T.O. should work it out
Situation has been blown out of proportion






For C.C. Brown, there was never an alternative. At least not one he considered.


There were no thoughts of earning a scholarship to play college football. No NFL dreams. Football was just a pastime to Brown when he turned 18.

"I was raised under my grandmother," Brown said. "She was the only person around. I didn't have no mother, no father, nothing. And it was either enlist in the Army or go in the street and sell drugs. I didn't want to go down that route."

The path Brown took has steered him to where his imagination rarely wandered. Four years after enlisting, Brown is still a civilian soldier with obligations to the Mississippi National Guard, but he is also a rookie strong safety who is quickly climbing the Texans' depth chart.

He has done just fine at both. After two seasons at junior college and then two years at Louisiana-Lafayette, Brown was on NFL scouts' radar last spring. He was a hard-hitting safety with good instincts and a strong 6-0, 204-pound frame.

But on draft day, he was passed over. More than one team was concerned Brown would be mobilized for duty in Afghanistan as soon as he was drafted.

"They were kind of terrified that the
moment they draft me I would get shipped overseas," said Brown, 22, who was drafted by the Texans in the sixth round. "It kind of hurt me a lot that they would think that."

There was reason for concern. Two batteries of the 114th Field Artillery Regiment from Mississippi already had left for duty in Afghanistan in February. Spc. 4 Brown was part of that unit but was not one of the 300 deployed. So far, only those who volunteered for duty have been mobilized.


Sendoff for friend
One of those who shipped out was Brown's best friend, Darrell Sproles, whose daughter is Brown's godchild. It was Sproles' idea for the friends to enlist on career day as high school seniors in Greenwood, Miss.

"He came up to me and said, 'I know where we can make easy money,' " Brown said. " 'We just go there, do the drills, and pick up a check.' I didn't know if I'd get accepted into any college at that time. And so I said, 'Man, I'm cool with it.' Both of us didn't want to go to the streets. So we enlisted."

Their plan didn't work out as anticipated, and now Brown struggles to deal with Sproles' absence. They talk every other day.

"It's hard," Brown said. "The only thing that I hope is that the guys overseas right now ... I hope they're looking at this in a positive way. Because when they come back, I want them all to come watch me play."

The Texans wanted Brown ever since they worked him out before the draft. Brown only tried out for a handful of teams and was not invited to the NFL scouting combine, so the Texans took their chances by waiting to call his name.

On the second day of the draft, the Texans' top targets were receiver Jerome Mathis and Brown.

"We gambled," Texans general manager Charley Casserly said. "Well really, I gambled. I think the scouts wanted to take him in the fourth round, but I said, no, we're going to take Mathis. We just had to gamble that because he didn't have a lot of visits, he would slip."

Brown has caught the attention of the coaches with his skills and his willingness to learn. He memorized the duties at free safety as well as strong safety. When starting strong safety Glenn Earl was injured last week, Brown filled in.

"I hear (compliments) every blue moon, but when they do tell me that, I pay it no mind," Brown said. "I always feel that I'm doing wrong, and I want to try to do right to impress the coaches."

Brown, whose full name is Ceandris Nehemiah, has impressed the coaches on the field and off. Soon after the draft, the Texans spoke with Maj. Gen. Harold Cross, the commander of the Mississippi National Guard. They each wanted to make the balance between the military and football easy for Brown.

The National Guard makes exceptions for some civilian soldiers. Brown is still supposed to attend monthly drills in Mississippi. His schedule has been tweaked, much like it is for people who work on oil rigs or in the airline industry.

When the season ends, Brown will return to Mississippi and focus on National Guard obligations. Until then, he can concentrate on football.

"He took an oath and he understands that commitment," Cross said. "On the other hand, he wants to have the possibility of an NFL career.

"It's tough. You have to make a special commitment to do it. But we both have. Ceandris is one of those young men, who can do both. He has the ability to be a pro football player. And we don't want to do anything to mitigate that."

There is a chance that Brown will be sent to Afghanistan. His unit is supposed to return in February, but if the government needs reinforcements and there are no more volunteers, Brown could be called.

The National Guard is required by law to give members 30 days' notice.

"Here's a guy who is playing football, the game he loves, but yet has a military obligation where he has to go and fight for our country," Casserly said. "Our guy has an obligation, potentially, to go there."


Memories of draft day
Brown's commitment to the National Guard continues through November 2007, but he is trying to focus on football.

When Brown reflects on the past few months, he struggles to grasp all that has transpired. The day he was drafted in the NFL is still a blur.

"Never in a million years did I imagine this," said Brown, who watched the NFL draft in his Louisiana apartment. "I was biting my nails. I was sweating. I couldn't sit still.

"And then when they finally called me, it was like it released a bunch of pressure off my chest."

megan.manfull@chron.com
08-24-2005 12:48 PM
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