Gators' Trenton Brown is kind of a big deal

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Jon Halapio knew Florida was playing host to junior college offensive lineman Trenton Brown on a recruiting visit and he was looking forward to meeting a potential teammate.

He did find it weird, though, that the coaches brought him over to meet Brown’s father.

Then he realized that was Trenton Brown -- all 6-foot-8 and 363 pounds of him.

"I thought he was a grown man," Halapio said. "I didn’t think he was a recruit. I thought he was a dad. Seriously. We all thought that. When he walked into the room we were like, ‘Where’s the recruit at?’

"Tallest dude I’ve ever seen in person. I was looking up at him the whole time I was talking to him."

Halapio isn’t exactly tiny, either, but he’s 5 inches shorter and 48 pounds lighter than Brown. But then again, Brown dwarfs everybody else on the roster, too. The Gators’ second-biggest player is freshman offensive lineman Rod Johnson, who is nearly as tall at 6-6 -- but he’s 47 pounds lighter.

Brown, who played the past two seasons at Georgia Military College, might be the biggest player in UF history. He’s certainly the biggest since Max Starks, a 6-8, 345-pound offensive lineman from 2000-03. And everybody, it seems, has a "whoa, this dude is big" moment to share.

"It took us all back," said Tyler Moore, a 6-6, 312-pound offensive tackle. "We all felt like we were in third grade again looking up at a high schooler.

"I’m not used to looking up at guys. I’m used to looking at guys or looking down. I haven’t looked up at somebody in a while."

Said 6-3, 263-pound sophomore buck Dante Fowler: "Trenton Brown is the biggest person I ever saw in my life."

Fowler has spent a lot of time lining up against Brown during practice. He said he has been able to get past Brown with a speed rush – although he said Brown is quicker than most people would think -- but hasn’t had any success with a bull rush.

"Since he’s so big, people kind of [think he’ll have bad] footwork," Fowler said. "He can get off the ball as quick as we can get off the ball. When you see that big body around you, you don’t know what to do. Next thing you know you run into him, and that’s not a good thing to do."

That could lead to one of the worst things Fowler could imagine on the football field.

"I never want Trenton to fall on me," Fowler said. "If he does, I’m pretty sure my body will be imprinted in the grass. I don’t want that to happen."

Brown -- whom a school spokesman said is not allowed to talk to the media until after he plays in a game -- is working exclusively at right tackle. Moore or Chaz Green will be the starter at right tackle, and whichever one doesn’t start will back up D.J. Humphries at left tackle.

Brown is behind the other linemen in terms of fundamentals because he has only been playing football for four years. UF coach Will Muschamp said Brown was a basketball player at Albany (Georgia) Westover and didn’t play football until his junior season.

"He thought he was going to be a basketball player until he started weighing 360 pounds," Muschamp said. "He found out very quickly he might be an offensive lineman."

Muschamp said Brown will play in the Gators’ jumbo package, which uses extra offensive linemen as tight ends, and possibly on the field goal and field goal block teams. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease said Brown will be a formidable blocker once he has an understanding of the offense.

"He’s got a lot of ability," Pease said. "He’s done a good job. The whole thing’s not thrown at him yet. The recognition of repetition of the same things over and over and over is not totally there. He’s kind of in that same sense a lot of the kids were last year [in the first year of the offense]: ‘Oh, gosh, there’s a new call. This one’s a new call.’

"But he’s getting it, you know, within the lineman’s world. He’s understanding it. When he’s in a one-on-one situation, he’s very talented. He’s big, he’s strong and he can move, so he’s going to be a real good football player."

Maybe even a big-time one.