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The Daily Tar Heel

SpoSat: ‘King’ Brown assumes throne

Charles Brown has been a ball hawk for the secondary with two interceptions and two recovered fumbles in 2009. DTH/Andrew Dye
Charles Brown has been a ball hawk for the secondary with two interceptions and two recovered fumbles in 2009. DTH/Andrew Dye

Wearing a white Kansas City Royals flatbill cap backwards, with a shining silver sticker under the brim, Charles Brown paused to think about which word described him best.

Safety Deunta Williams had tabbed him as “sharp.” Cornerback Kendric Burney referred to him as “crazy.” Coach Butch Davis settled on deeming him a “playmaker.”

After a few seconds, Brown came to a decision.

“I guess they all sound good. Crazy is good. Sharp is good. Playmaker is good,” Brown said. “I would describe myself as being explosive. That’s the only word that hasn’t been used.”

Maybe four adjectives is enough for Brown, but not for observers of him and UNC’s defense. Plenty of words already have been written on the strength of the unit, a veteran group for which Brown has forced four turnovers.

Brown has consistently put himself in the right place at the right time. He’s picked off a team-leading two passes and recovered two fumbles. He’s also recorded 23 tackles, trailing only Quan Sturdivant and Burney in that category.

“He worked really, really hard on the fundamentals of playing corner,” Davis said.

“Just focusing on the keys and then letting your God-given athletic ability put you in position to make some plays.”

Brown has burst back into the lineup after injuries slowed him down in 2008.

An ankle injury he sustained prior to UNC’s opener against McNeese State lingered for most of the season, and he missed the Tar Heels’ final two games of the regular season.

Williams said Brown expressed frustrations to him about his injuries during the offseason, and he pledged to maximize his talent.

“He said, ‘Man, I’m sitting on a gold mine. Don’t let me spoil this thing away,’” Williams said.

Brown hasn’t disappointed on that promise so far. In addition to his impressive statistics, he’s been one of UNC’s more passionate players on the field, always saying a little something extra to an opponent.

Burney said that he loves Brown’s intensity because it gets him and the rest of the defense fired up when it isn’t playing well.

“I love football. I hate losing,” Brown said. “That kind of gets me fired up when our team’s not doing good enough I feel like that’s losing at the time, and I hate losing.”

Brown’s also carries the coveted title of “Swag King” on the team, which he got from departed wide receiver Brandon Tate. He said Williams and defensive tackle Marvin Austin have already tried to steal the nickname from him.

To maintain a hold on his royal designation, he’s convinced his teammates to call him King Swag No. 1.

“When you meet some rappers, you understand that the reason they can freestyle is that their mind is very sharp,” Williams said. “On the spur of the moment he’ll come up with a joke or some kind of crazy freestyle.”

Whatever his nickname ends up being by the end of the season, Brown has earned the trust of his teammates with his play so far.

Williams said he trusts Brown’s ball skills more, and he gives the cornerback more free reign to intercept balls rather than bat them away.

As for Burney, he’s told Brown that he’s like a brother.

“When I look to my left, and I see CB, I know I’m pretty much good.”

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