DURHAM (AP) — This was supposed to be one last season of fun for the Brown brothers to play together on Duke’s defense.
Now it won’t happen.
Another knee injury to big brother Kelby Brown has left Kyler as the last Brown playing for the Blue Devils.
Redshirt senior Kyler Brown said Wednesday that his emotions during the past 12 months have been “up and down.”
Separated by 15 months, the Browns were going to be among the cornerstones of the Duke defense in 2014 before Kelby — an all-ACC linebacker — tore his left anterior cruciate ligament last August.
The NCAA granted him a sixth year of eligibility — giving the brothers a final season to play together — but last month, Kelby re-tore his left ACL, ending his college career.
Now Kelby will serve as a student assistant coach during his little brother’s final college season, with coach David Cutcliffe crediting him for helping run a recent linebackers’ meeting.
“This last time he got injured, in a way it was easier to handle just because I’d been through everything before,” Kyler said. “He’s in a good place now to where he can help coach as a student and help the guys out, and still be a part of the team.”
Injuries have been an unfortunate part of the careers of the Brown brothers — natives of Charlotte whose only season on the field together came in 2013, the year the Blue Devils won 10 games, claimed the Coastal Division title and played in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Kyler redshirted in 2011 when Kelby, then a sophomore, earned a team award as Duke’s top linebacker. Kelby missed the next year with a torn right ACL while Kyler had 51 tackles in 12 games.
Kelby tore his other ACL during the Blue Devils’ first scrimmage of the 2014 preseason, and Kyler went on to record 24 stops during Duke’s run to the Sun Bowl. That November, Kelby received a sixth year from the NCAA — but eight months later, he re-injured the knee.
“His injury last year was pretty terrible to go through, as you could imagine,” Kyler said. “Going through all the thoughts of whether I’m going to be able to play with him again, what might happen with me and my relationship with him … that was pretty devastating to see him go.
“Once he decided to come back, I was so happy for him and excited to be able to play with him again,” he said.
Kyler came to Duke as a linebacker, but is listed as the starter at Duke’s newly created “Devil” position — a hybrid defensive end-outside linebacker spot that requires both speed and smarts. At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, he appears to have a frame equipped to handle both pass-rush and pass-coverage responsibilities.
“He’s a long guy — long, strong, tall, smart, experienced,” safety Deondre Singleton said. “He knows the game. It makes it easier on me because he knows what he’s doing. I don’t have to worry about second-guessing if Kyler’s going to do this or that. You just know he’s going to do it.”