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Former Penn State Running Back and Safety Gary Brown Passes Away

Brown was a standout for the Nittany Lions in the late ‘80s

Oilers Gary Brown Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Gary Brown, a member of Penn State’s Football team from 1987-1990 and Williamsport native, passed away on Sunday at the age of 52.

Brown was a regular during his four-year career in Happy Valley. He amassed 273 yards with an impressive 6.5 yards per carry, and three scores during his freshman season, before stepping into the starting role in 1988 after Blair Thomas was lost for the season with an injury. Brown finished with 689 yards and six scores on the ground while adding 11 catches for 152 yards and a receiving touchdown. He switched to safety, or what was known as the Hero position, to keep him on the field as much as possible when Thomas returned to the backfield in 1989, before playing his final season at Penn State at running back once again. He finished his college career with 1,585 yards from scrimmage and 12 scores.

Brown was also a standout kick returner for the Nittany Lions, with a career average of 24.2 yards per return.

After falling to the eighth round of the 1991 NFL Draft, Brown would go on to exceed expectations with an eight-year career, mostly with the Houston Oilers before stops in San Diego and the New York Giants. Brown had two 1,000-yard rushing seasons during his NFL career.

Brown would remain in football for the remainder of his career. He returned to Williamsport High School as an assistant coach before working his ways up in the college game. He eventually worked his way up to running backs coach for Rutgers in 2008 before moving on to the pros with stints in Cleveland and Dallas. He returned to the Big Ten as Wisconsin’s running backs coach in 2021.

Brown had been in hospice care prior to his passing, and leaves behind his wife and three children.