Florida International U

This FIU cornerback has been rebuilt after surgery. He’s now bigger, faster and stronger

FIU cornerback Ike Brown is ready to return to the field after having his 2017 season cut short.
FIU cornerback Ike Brown is ready to return to the field after having his 2017 season cut short.

Cornerback Ike Brown is FIU’s version of “The Six Million Dollar Man.”

No, that’s not a reference to the contract the 6-1, 185-pound Brown could command in the NFL but rather to a TV show that first aired nearly a half-century ago.

In that fictional plot, Col. Steve Austin, an astronaut who suffered through a horrific aircraft crash, acquired super powers after he was rebuilt by the U.S. government.

Brown doesn’t have any bionic implants, but he has rebuilt his career following the fifth game of the 2017 schedule.

Playing at Middle Tennessee on Oct. 7, Brown got tangled up with a wide receiver, went up in the air and fell to the turf, landing with a huge thud on his left shoulder.

“I snapped my collarbone,” said Brown, a native of Tampa. “It was a clean fracture.”

Brown said the pads he wore that day “weren’t very protective,” leaving his shoulder exposed.

A tough young man, Brown tried to play through the injury.

“At first, I didn’t feel it,” Brown said. “My body was in shock. But once my adrenaline came down, I started feeling it more.

“I played an extra play [after the injury], but my shoulder started to throb a little bit. I went to the sidelines, and I had the trainer check. He reached inside my shoulder pads and felt that I had a fractured collarbone.”

X-rays confirmed that diagnosis, and Brown began his rehabilitation, which took nearly four months.

That’s when Brown became a real-life version of Colonel Austin, played by Lee Majors. The show’s opening catch-phrase was:

“We can rebuild him. We have the technology.”

That’s what happened at FIU, where Brown improved his 40-yard-dash time from 4.5 to 4.4. He gained 10 pounds of muscle, up from 175, and he went from doing five repetitions at 225 pounds on the bench press to doing 15 reps.

“I got bigger, faster and stronger,” Brown said. “I also watched a lot of game film, taking mental reps.”

Brown, a junior, has now emerged as the leader of FIU’s defensive backs.

“Our secondary is really long and very physical,” Brown said. “We are putting the pieces together.”

The pieces are being put together in much the same way Brown has been rebuilt following his broken collarbone.


Defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, who tied for the team lead in sacks last season with seven, is the only proven starter on FIU’s d-line. Johnson said all the linemen are rotating in and out as FIU coach Butch Davis attempts to build depth that will go 8-to-10 linemen deep.

Asked who have been the most consistent defensive ends so far, Johnson nominated transfers Jordan Woods (Georgia Tech) and Josh Little (Kansas State). Johnson said the top tackle playing alongside him so far this fall has been junior-college transfer Tayland Humphrey, a 6-5, 350-pounder.

Other defensive linemen battling for spots include Milord Juste, Noah Curtis, Kevin Oliver, Teair Tart, Jermaine Sheriff and Andrew Tarver.

“The depth we have,” Johnson said, “will keep us all fresh.”

FIU guard Jordan Budwig was asked which Panthers offensive lineman would be best suited to play tight end:

“Me,” he said. “I have the best hands on the offensive line. That’s not even a discussion.”

NOTE: The Miami Herald is now offering a digital sports-only subscription for $30 per year. This is unlimited access to all Herald sports and sports stories, thus allowing you to comment in the section below as many times as you wish. Click right here to get started immediately.