May 7, 2009
Danny P Smith -
It''s difficult enough for an athlete to come back from one torn labrum.
Mississippi State freshman outfielder Brent Brownlee has suffered that injury three times, and has had to have surgery on each occasion.
Brownlee had one of the surgeries as a student-athlete at Oxford High School. He has had two more since he joined the MSU baseball program in 2007-08.
Brownlee has battled back from sitting out a redshirt season to earn playing time at MSU this season.
"It hurts a pretty good bit during the rehab process, but the pain is not as bad now," Brownlee said. "I''m just glad to be out there, especially having to battle through all these surgeries."
Brownlee has played in 35 games (14 starts) and is hitting .275 with 14 runs scored, 14 hits, one home run, and 10 RBIs.
"He''s really turned the page," MSU baseball coach John Cohen said. "Brent is such a great athlete. He can really run and has arm strength. He makes things look really easy, and he''s still not 100 percent healthy. When he gets there, he''s really going to be fun to watch."
Brownlee, a four-sport letterman at Oxford High, first hurt his labrum playing football.
Oxford High baseball coach Bradley Roberson said determination has helped Brownlee return.
"A lot of kids would quit and decide that''s it, I''m done, and have had enough, but not Brent," Roberson said. "He''s strong-minded, strong-willed, and strong-hearted. He kept working to get himself better to get back in shape to play baseball."
Roberson calls Brownlee "without a doubt the best all-around baseball player I''ve ever coached," and said he has all of the tools to be outstanding.
Brownlee was the leadoff hitter as a sophomore at Oxford High and earned All-District, All-Area and All-State honors in leading the Chargers to the 2005 Class 4A state championship.
Roberson believes Brownlee will make similar contributions at MSU before his college career is done.
"Brent Brownlee is going to be an asset for the Mississippi State baseball program for the next three years," Roberson said. "He''s the type of kid that if there is someone better than he is when he gets there, before it''s all over with he''s doing to do what''s necessary to be better."
Brownlee will return home this weekend when the Bulldogs take on the University of Mississippi in a Southeastern Conference three-game series. The games are 6:30 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday, and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
Brownlee is sure he will hear it from the friends in the stands at Oxford-University Stadium.
"It is going to be different, especially being from there and going against a rival," Brownlee said. "I''ve been to a lot of Ole Miss baseball games, but I''m kind of looking forward to seeing the new stadium. I know they''ve done a lot to it."
Brownlee chose to play at MSU because of the school''s tradition and facilities. His father, Sonny, also graduated and earned his master''s degree from MSU.
Even though the MSU baseball team has struggled the past two seasons, Brownlee is confident Cohen will help reverse the program''s fortunes.
"Coach Cohen is doing a lot of things right and it will take time to implement his system," Brownlee said. "In the next few years, we''ll step it up."