Gophers pin hopes on Broncos’ Brewster
MINNEAPOLIS ” Tim Brewster spent 13 years learning the tricks of the recruiting trade under guru Mack Brown.
Six years after leaving Brown for the NFL, Brewster will finally put that knowledge to work in his first head coaching job.
The little-known Denver Broncos tight ends coach was hired by Minnesota on Tuesday to breathe new life into the Golden Gopher football program. He will be introduced at a Wednesday news conference.
“He is the guy,” associate athletic director Tom Wistrcill said.
People who know Brewster describe him as an outgoing personality who excels in recruiting.
“Tim worked with us for 13 years and is not only one of the best football coaches I’ve ever coached with but he’s also a great friend,” Brown said in a statement issued by Texas. “He’s a high-energy guy who has gained experience and been a part of winning programs at every level.”
Brewster spent the last two seasons with the Broncos after three years as tight ends coach for the San Diego Chargers, where he is credited with developing Antonio Gates from a raw basketball player into one of the best tight ends in the league.
Before that, he was one of Brown’s top recruiters at North Carolina and Texas, where he played a big role in luring the class that won the Longhorns the 2005 national championship.
“He’s been around winning programs and he knows what it takes to get your program to elite status,” said Minnesota Vikings long snapper Cullen Loeffler, who played tight end under Brewster at Texas.
That’s a plateau that Glen Mason couldn’t quite reach in 10 years at Minnesota.
Mason was fired Dec. 31, two days after the Gophers blew a 31-point third-quarter lead in the Insight Bowl to lose to Texas Tech in the biggest comeback in major college bowl history.
“It brings some closure and I think guys are excited because now we know who our coach will be,” Gophers center Tony Brinkhaus said. “We heard a lot of good things about him. It definitely gets rid of some of the anxiety.”
When the Gophers hired Mason in 1997 to take over a program that was at the bottom of the Big Ten, they chose a proven head coach who had succeeded at Kent State and Kansas.
Contrast that with the 46-year-old Brewster, who has never even been a top coordinator, much less a head coach, in college or the pros. He started as a graduate assistant at Purdue in 1986 and then became head coach at Central Catholic High School in Lafayette, Ind., for two seasons.
Brewster then spent 13 seasons as tight ends coach, special teams coach and recruiting coordinator under Brown at North Carolina and Texas.
Among other stars Brewster lured to Austin were quarterbacks Chris Simms and Vince Young, this season’s NFL rookie of the year.
“He’s a pretty well-respected guy,” said Bob Lichtenfels, a regional manager for national recruiting Web site Scout.com. “I think it’s a nice hire. He’s going to be able to do some things.”
Learning under Brown, who is regarded as a master recruiter, and having two highly recruited sons in high school right now will help Brewster, Lichtenfels said.
“That means he can relate to kids and parents who are going through the process right now,” Lichtenfels said. “To me, that’s the biggest thing.”
Enthusiastic and energetic, Brewster comes to a school that needs a salesman. The university is set to open a new on-campus football stadium in 2009, but still needs to raise plenty of money to support that effort.
Mason’s reluctance to sell the program, and a public demeanor that was often perceived as prickly and aloof, didn’t help.
“He’s loyal, passionate and I’ve never been around anyone that works harder,” Brown said. “Tim is a great football coach and recruiter with a bright future as a head coach. Minnesota is lucky to have him.”
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