Tigers have a Pig in their midst

Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Missouri's Cornelius "Pig" Brown participated in a recent practice in Columbia, Mo. Brown will share the punt return duties and is listed No. 2 at strong safety. (Don Shrubshell ~ Columbia Daily Tribune)

Cornelius "Pig" Brown is making a name for himself.

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Don't call him Cornelius. His name is Pig.

Pig Brown, a junior college transfer in his first season at Missouri, has made a name for himself -- so to speak -- as a Tiger with intensity on the field that resembles a wild boar.

Pig joins a Missouri defense with some equally distinct nicknames -- Charles "Big House" Gaines, Jamar "Tank" Smith and "Ziggy" Hood. Those guys describe Pig as a fast and relentless competitor.

"He kind of came to the program and hit the ground running. A lot of people can't do that," said defensive end Brian "Smitty" Smith. "The coaches like him. The players like him. And on the field, he's quick and makes plays. He's somebody to keep an eye on."

The transfer from Reedley Community College in California will share punt returns with Marcus Woods and is the No. 2 strong safety when Missouri opens the season Saturday at home against Murray State.

Brown led his community college Tigers, which were ranked among the best in the country, to a conference championship in 2005. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

"We've asked a lot out of him because we've asked him to play a couple of positions. We know that's real hard for a newcomer," defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said. "He's a very intelligent football player. I'm just impressed with his work ethic and really just the type of kid he is."

There's a good reason this 5-foot-11, 205-pound player with dreadlocks from Adel, Ga., got the name Pig from his mother. And, of course, it involves food -- baloney, hot dogs, pizza and lunch meat are his favorites.

"My mom told me when I was little that I just ate and ate for no reason. Like a pig. Before I go to bed, in the middle of the night, when I wake up, in front of the TV," Brown said. "Any chance I got, I was eating."

The name has stuck from kindergarten to college. No one in his family ever calls him Cornelius. Some might not know his real name, he said.

A professor refused to call him Pig and said it was impolite on his first day of classes at Missouri last week.

"No sir. I'm sorry," he said, with the southern hospitality he's known for. "That's really my name."

The move up from playing at a junior college powerhouse changed not only his attitude about football, but his diet, Brown said. The team monitors his weight almost daily. When he arrived in Columbia, he was 20 pounds plumper than he is today.

"Back in junior college, we could eat whatever we wanted. If I wanted McDonald's after practice, I got McDonald's after practice," he said.

He's taking a liking to eating steak every day since moving to Missouri, he said, but still loves his hot dogs with extra ketchup and mustard more.

Brown was ranked among the top junior college prospects in the country last year and chose Missouri over Texas Tech, New Mexico, Boise State and Marshall, among other Division I schools.

He won all-state and all-conference honors last season as a sophomore. He returned kickoffs and punts and was named Reedley's defensive player of the year.

"We started recruiting him and he developed a relationship with the coaches. He had a lot of opportunities to go other places but he stuck with us," coach Gary Pinkel said. "As a punt returner he's intense and exciting to watch."

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