Angelo State sports fans knew Graylon Brown as a baseball player.
They remember the relief pitcher who established the ASU and Lone Star Conference record for career saves with 29 from 2013-2016. The right-hander who set an ASU single-season record with 12 saves in 2015 and matched it in 2016. The closer who helped the Rams reach the NCAA Division II College World Series in 2015 and 2016 – Brown’s final two collegiate seasons.
Before ASU, Brown actually was an athlete for all seasons at Brownwood High School. He quarterbacked the football team during the fall, directed the basketball team as a four-year starting point guard during the winter, and was an all-state outfielder/pitcher for the baseball team in the spring.
During the 2010 football season, Brown and his Brownwood teammates assembled an offense that’s still talked about today in the city where legendary coach Gordon Wood’s seven state championships usually dominate football conversations.
“They had the best high school offensive team I’ve seen,” said Dallas Huston, who’s in his 54th season of calling Brownwood football games on local radio. “Calling their games was about the most fun I’ve had in football.”
That includes calling six of Wood’s seven state championship seasons.
The 2010 Brownwood offense scored on 19 consecutive possessions at one point during the regular season. It scored 801 points overall — a school record for one of the state’s most tradition-rich programs. The Lions averaged 53 points per game, almost 40 by halftime.
The biggest name on the 2010 Brownwood offense was receiver Jaxon Shipley, who later played collegiately at Texas. Shipley caught 87 passes for 1,653 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2010. Four other receivers — Luke Chastain, Vance McShan, Cade Johnson and Dillon Ellis — combined for 132 catches and 21 TDs.
In the backfield, Stehl Ratliff ran for 1,066 yards and 25 scores while Levi Perez added 15 TDs.
But Brown — all 5 feet, 10 inches and 175 pounds of him — was the catalyst.
“Graylon was the most important part of that offense,” Huston said. “Most people would think it was Jaxon Shipley, but even he would tell you it was Graylon Brown. Jaxon always talked about how he threw such an easy ball to catch.
“Graylon had a clock in his mind. He knew when to turn loose of the ball and when not to.”
Brown put up some staggering numbers in 2010, passing for 4,036 yards and 47 TDs against only six interceptions. He completed 67 percent of his passes and his QB rating was 134.6. Anything over 100 is considered good.
The all-state quarterback also rushed for 678 yards and 11 TDs.
“The main thing I remember is how much fun we had and how close we all were as players,” Brown said recently. “We had so many weapons, so many targets to get the ball to. It was my job to distribute the ball all over the field. The defense didn’t know who was going to get the ball.”
Brownwood lit up perennial powers Stephenville 49-16, Abilene Wylie 45-7 and China Spring 65-14. The 2010 Lions scored 88 points in bi-district against Iowa Park and outscored their first four playoff opponents by an average of 57-19.
“At the time, we didn’t realize how powerful our offense was,” Brown said. “We were having so much fun that we didn’t worry about the stats we were getting.
“I’ve never been a part of anything like it. It was astonishing to look back on it, even though we didn’t win state.”
Oh yeah. The one rub on the 2010 Brownwood team is that, for all its offensive prowess, it didn’t win state. In the Class 3A Division II state semifinals, Brownwood fell 35-28 to two-time defending state champion Carthage. The Lions had the ball inside the Carthage 5-yard line on the game’s final play, but a Brown pass intended for Shipley was tipped away incomplete.
Carthage won its third consecutive state title the next week, beating Coldspring-Oakhurst 48-22.
“You know we put up almost 60 points a game, but to win state, you have to have some luck. And we ran into a really good Carthage team,” Brown said.
“Not winning state doesn’t dampen the memories. I wouldn’t trade anything about that season as far as the guys I played with. I might change the final score of the Carthage game.”
Brown earned his bachelor’s degree from ASU in business management and currently is working on a master’s in education. He sees himself in some kind of sales position, but what he’d really like to do is start his own select baseball team of teenage players and travel the country playing games.
Brown played for a Waco-based select baseball team during the summers, starting in the eighth grade. He knows what it did for him, and he wants to help other young players in the same way.
“It gives them a chance to play college ball and get an education because it gives them a chance to be seen against a high level of competition,” Brown said. “Sports is going to end one day for all of us — whether it’s in high school, college or the pros. Education is the big thing to get nowadays.
“Playing select ball absolutely helped me get a college education. If I hadn’t gone to college, I’d have a job now, but it wouldn’t be anything as beneficial as I’m going to get with a master’s degree.”