After leaving Michigan in October, freshman cornerback Greg Brown didn't know what he'd do next. But he was sure of one thing -- he wanted to play football in 2012.
The Fremont Ross graduate would've been forced to sit out next season to satisfy NCAA requirements if he transferred to another Division I program, so he enrolled at Division II Findlay, where he'll be eligible to play immediately. The spring semester at Findlay began Monday, and Brown will participate in winter conditioning.
"I had Division I offers," Brown said Monday. "I didn't want to sit out a year. I wanted to get straight to football."
Brown played in three games for the Wolverines before leaving in the bye week because of what he termed as "coaching problems." Wolverines coach Brady Hoke refused to delve into specifics of Brown's departure at the time, stating simply that "Greg is no longer part of our team."
Brown will join a Findlay team that went 6-5 this fall under first-year coach Rob Keys and improved its win total by five from 2010. The Oilers' top moments came in wins over Grand Valley State to snap an 11-game losing streak to the Lakers and against eventual NCAA runner-up Wayne State to end the regular season.
Keys said Brown's rare athleticism, noted by his 4.5-second 40-yard dash, makes him attractive to play offense or defense. Or maybe both. Brown was used primarily on special teams at Michigan but drew high praise from his coaches in the spring and preseason for his work at cornerback.
"The expectation level for him coming in is extremely high, but I think he wanted it that way," Keys said.
Findlay's close proximity to Fremont -- about 50 minutes -- didn't factor into Brown's decision. Rather, he was enticed by Oilers assistant coach Dan Hott, who was a graduate assistant at Michigan under former coach Rich Rodriguez. Brown contacted Hott about a week after he left Michigan to survey Findlay's interest in him.
Brown was the first player to commit to the Wolverines' 2011 class and the only member of that class to enroll in school last January. A consensus three-star recruit, Brown was named first team Division I All-Ohio as a senior. His strongest assessment came from ESPN, which ranked Brown as the nation's 35th best cornerback prospect.
"He's someone who was not only at Michigan but played at Michigan," Keys said.
Keys hopes Brown forges a career path similar to Isaiah Ballard, the former University of Toledo standout defensive back who was dismissed by the Rockets last summer and excelled at Findlay this fall. Ballard, a Rogers graduate, was named first team All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference after recording 96 tackles and leading the nation in forced fumbles with six.
"We kind of look at Greg the same way, to not only be the best player on our team, but to be the best player in the league," Keys said.