For TU's Corey Brown, Home Is Where His Heart Is
Sept. 26, 2000
University of Tulsa senior wide receiver Corey Brown doesn't get out much. His average day consists of classes, football, studies, and most of all, staying in his apartment on the TU campus. Staying home is not only something he likes to do, it's his favorite thing to do.
Brown's "homebody" attitude can be traced back to his days of growing up in rural Oklahoma. Although he attended Lone Grove High School, Brown lived on a small farm in Milo, Oklahoma. But Brown's childhood days were not typical, if anything they were atypical.
Instead of being raised by his parents, Brown was brought up by his grandparents from the time he entered elementary school until his high school graduation. Brown never knew his real father and his mother, Emma Fuller, moved to Oklahoma City and married his stepfather, Bennie, when he was 5-years-old.
Brown says growing up with his grandparents was probably a lot different than that of most kids, but their guidance has made him into what he is today.
"My grandmother instilled the `old school' values that she was raised with in me and I think that has really helped me with my life," Brown said. "Instead of being real strict, she was laid back and told me it was my life to live. She let me make my own decisions. She gave guidance, but she could also scream at me and give me whippings if I got out of line."
Brown's childhood days consisted of fishing and playing basketball and football, although his friends lived miles down the road on other farms. But probably the biggest aspect of his days in the country was the strength and character he gained from his grandmother.
"My grandmother is a very mentally strong person. She has been through a lot. My grandfather died a few years ago and she had a stroke last year, and was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. But of all the things she's been through, she remains positive and has a very good attitude. All the adversity she's been through has made me into a stronger person," Brown said.
Although his parents were not there to raise him, Brown remains very close to his mother and stepfather. But unlike the average parent-child relationships, Brown has had to learn another language to communicate with his parents.
Brown's parents are deaf. Although his mother is partially deaf, his father is deaf and mute. His mother can talk, but is very hearing impaired. So, since he was old enough to realize what communication was, Brown had to learn sign language to communicate with both of his parents.
"For as long as I can remember, I have been using some form of sign language. My mom can talk and read my lips, but I've had to learn more signs to communicate with my stepfather. I have to go slow with him compared to my brother and sister who can really get after it. Sometimes my stepfather and younger brother and sister talk so fast with sign language, I can't even understand what they are saying to each other. It's really a unique situation," Brown said.
Brown can relate the sign language he learned as a young boy to that of the hand signals he uses on the Golden Hurricane football team. Along with his other receiving counterparts and sophomore quarterback Josh Blankenship, hand signals play a vital part of their offensive scheme. Although he says he probably hasn't learned the hand signals any quicker than any other of his counterparts, Brown insists some of the signals are similar to that of sign language.
"Some of the signals we use in football are very similar to that of sign language. It's a little bit different seeing different plays communicated in the form of sign language, but I don't really cross the two or get confused," Brown said.
Unlike most student-athletes who come from small communities, Brown hasn't forgot the lifestyle he grew up in as a child. A history major, Brown still likes to play football, but when the games and practices are finished, he can be found in his apartment watching movies and playing video games, or as his friends have labeled him, "being a homebody".
"I'm still an old school guy. I don't like go out much. Really, all I like to do is stay at home. I like to watch movies, play video games. I'll play every game from skating to wrestling to football. I play them all," Brown said.
However, staying at home is not his only ambition. Brown says he would like to play professional football after his career at TU is finished. This past spring, he ran a 4.4 time in the 40-yard dash for NFL scouts, and his stock is rising this season, as he has become a legitimate deep threat for the Hurricane. He enters today's game against Louisiana Tech with 16 receptions for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Brown ranks 38th nationally in receptions per game (5.3), and had a career-best 78-yard touchdown catch in the season opener at North Carolina.
"I'd really like to play on the next level, but right now I'm not thinking past this season. I'm thinking more of our team's goal of winning a WAC championship," Brown said. Brown has had a lot of role models during his life. His current mentor is his position coach Dan Bitson. Brown says the TU receiving corps has the utmost respect for the former Hurricane All-American and has already seen immediate results from Bitson's tutelage.
"Coach Bitson was one of the all-time greats at Tulsa. When he talks, we listen. He has shown us a lot of different techniques, taught us attitude and makes all the receivers realize we all have a role even if it's a small role," Brown said.
Brown's low-key persona has helped him become the successful student-athlete he is today. The lessons of life he learned from his grandmother as a child have stayed with him through his young adult years at The University of Tulsa. For as long as Brown knows his way home, he'll never get lost in the game of life.
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