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The real story behind Eli Brown’s transfer

Eli Brown’s transfer from the University of Kentucky football program came as a bit of a surprise.

As a redshirt sophomore in 2017, Brown saw playing time in 12 games and totaled 38 tackles, two tackles for loss and one pass deflection on the season. His biggest performance came in the road win at South Carolina, when he made six tackles and one big stop for a loss while filling in for the injured Jordan Jones.

It looked as if Brown was poised for another good year within the UK linebacking corps in 2018 — presumably in an even bigger role with all the new playing time to be had — but he instead chose to leave for another program. He announced this past spring that he would return to Bowling Green, Ky., to play for Western Kentucky.

Today we found out why.

In a story from Larry Vaught, we learn Brown’s transfer was due to family reasons. He has three younger siblings he’s responsible for, since the passing of their mother a few years ago.

“I had to take care of my family,” Brown said.

Then he went on to tell me the story about having two younger sisters in foster care — one younger brother (age 16) still is. They were in Florida with his mother before she passed away a few years ago. Once they were old enough to get out of foster care, his sisters came to Lexington to be with him.

It’s hard to take care of two sisters while in college and having to pay the bills. My family decided it would be best if I would move back home (to Bowling Green) and get some support to help me,” Brown said. “The house I grew up in is right down the street from Western. I can walk to the stadium. I truly loved UK but I have to do this to take care of my family.”

He said trying to take care of his sisters has been the “most difficult thing” he’s ever had to do. He was the second oldest of his mom’s five children. His older brother has been in and out of prison.

I highly encourage you to read more from Vaught’s conversation with Brown. It provides a much better understanding of why he had to go, and how much he has on his plate at only 22 years old. Go read it now.

Eli Brown Loved Kentucky Football But Had To Transfer For Family Reasons

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

23 responses to “The real story behind Eli Brown’s transfer”

  1. Mathlete

    If ever there was a good reason to transfer, this is it. Good luck Eli, go crush some C-USA QBs and get some NFL money!

  2. JRock1966

    Godspeed and best wishes Mr. Eli Brown!

  3. IAmTheDanger

    Wow, my heart really goes out to him. What a great example of selflessness and being a man.

  4. makeitstop

    Totally agree – THAT is a good reason to transfer. I just wish he used the forum he had at UK where people gladly would have contributed through a go fund me page or earmarked money for them to a local church or charity… assuming the NCAA in is wisdom wouldn’t consider that an unlawful benefit from boosters.

    1. Mathlete

      The NCAA definitely would have said it’s extra benefits. This is the same organization that until a few years ago decreed that you can give players peanut butter, but not jelly (and I wish that was just hyperbole). Plus, most people don’t want to be charity/sympathy cases.

      Props to Eli for making the hard call and taking care of his family over playing at UK, that takes guts and character most people will never understand.

    2. Wilfred Smith

      NCAA wouldn’t allow it. Hope this young man gets a degree and takes care of his family.

    3. J-Dub421

      A few years ago the NCAA made a few football players (I can’t remember their names or what school they attended) pay something around $3.00 each because they allegedly ate too much pasta at a buffet. Do you really think the NCAA is the type of organization that would allow people to help a player’s family??? I assure you it’s not.

    4. makeitstop

      U can give fake classes for decades but not jelly… words fail me. You know, there ought to be a top 10 stupid ncaa rulings list but it would be an embarrassment of riches. A school can hire a kid’s dad as a coach, but u can’t feed the orphaned siblings. Okay then. So, if I establish a non profit w beneficiaries to be the under privileged orphaned kids of athletes and English students, that would be cool under the UNC ruling?

    5. Mathlete

      My fault, the original rule was actually dumber than what I cited… You could provide bagels, but not peanut butter, jelly, or cream cheese to spread on them even though you could provide fruit, nuts, and dairy as “nutritional supplements”. Here’s an article from SI from when the NCAA removed their heads from their colons for a minute and changed that:

    6. makeitstop

      That’s hilarious. What do u want to bet me the NCAA had bagels AND spread in their break room the whole time. Just like true socialists, one standard for the rule writers, one for everyone else.

  5. J-Dub421

    That is alot to shoulder at such a young age. Best of luck to him.

  6. cozbob

    So can we now agree to stop criticizing people’s transfer or draft decisions when we don’t know their situations. No? Well it was worth a shot.

    1. Booby Petrino

      and the coaches, as if it’s their fault and something sinister is going on behind the scenes.

    2. Mathlete

      Reality is so much more boring than the conclusions people leap to in their heads though!

  7. lexslamman

    Sounds like just another casualty from the tragic breakdown of the traditional family unit.

    1. katfan33

      Yeah, it’s not the 1950’s anymore. Many “traditional families” deal with similar issues.

  8. Realme

    The NCAA should have a hardship fund that players can apply for. It’s nonsense that he had to leave school in order to help his family survive.

    1. ClutchCargo

      It’s not just about money, though. I’m guessing he needed to get back to BG in order to have the support network that he didn’t have in Lexington.

    2. makeitstop

      Right? And why can’t a school do it, to leverage their fan base to actually help families that need it? Do we really think a five star recruit is going to say “yea, I could’ve got pro if I went to Kansas but Nebraska gave better free meals and diapers? Seriously WTF? The Rice Commission comes up w players sitting out a year and dodges the actual issue that some families literally aren’t having basic needs met and can’t afford for their kids to go to college not bc of tuition but bc they need a paycheck to survive. Literally any 10 of us could’ve come up w better ideas.

    3. makeitstop

      Clutch makes a good point – it may be more family not just more money but hey, if we gave fake classes we could make the kids do daycare when they weren’t in their fake class. UNC was visionary. I know, let it go…

    4. notFromhere

      Well said you guys

  9. notFromhere

    This is what’s wrong with the NCAA. If he was being paid to play, or could accept donations for him to help raise he family,he could be focusing on school. If they cared about the student-athletes, we wouldn’t have stories like this

  10. luke_emberton

    That is so sad
    I always wished him the best but even more so now what a great young man