BOISE — When Geraldo Boldewijn surprised his teammates a few years ago by showing he could play the piano, at least one — linebacker Jonathan Brown — was inspired to try and do the same.
Already holding a business degree and needing to take 12 credit hours to remain eligible this fall, the redshirt senior plans to fulfill a goal he’s had for years by taking a class to learn to play the piano.
“When we were freshman in the dorms, I remember there was a piano sitting there and we were doing a team thing with all the freshman and he just started playing it,” Brown said. “It was cool.
“I’m going into it really open-minded and I want to soak in all the information I can. I can’t play at all. I can play “Ode to Joy,” because that’s kind of easy but that’s it. I want to learn. I played trumpet in middle school, but that was in sixth grade.”
Brown knows it will take more than one semester to become prolific on the piano, but he hopes it jumpstarts his learning so he can someday sit down at a random piano and shock those around him like Boldewijn did.
“Just walk in the room and everybody is like, ‘Oh there’s a piano’ and I sit down and start playing,” Brown said. “Maybe I’ll only know one or two songs, but I’ll know how to play it.”
But as hard as learning to play the piano might be, Brown figures to have arguably an even tougher task this fall as he steps into a starting linebacker spot along side Blake Renaud and Tyler Gray.
The 5-foot-10, 206-pound Brown has played 26 games in three seasons with the Broncos but has struggled to avoid the injury bug. He’s dealt with injuries to his hip, knee and ankle in addition to battling a case of vertigo.
“I’ve had my fair share of injuries,” Brown said. “It’s human nature just to question why is this happening to me right now, especially when you feel like you’re doing good, but that’s just God’s way of making you understand what’s really important. I’ve grown from those situations and learned a lot.
“The moment you start thinking to yourself, ‘Here we go again,’ something else will come. You just have to take it for what it is and try to learn from it. Everything happens for a reason so I just try to learn from it.”
Brown has 45 tackles in three seasons. His best year came as a sophomore in 2011, when he started four games and appeared in the first 10 before going down with one of his many injuries. He had a career-high 19 tackles, including 2.5 for a loss.
He’ll likely spend much of his time this fall at strong-side linebacker, where the Broncos hope he can finally reach the potential that many saw in him when he arrived in Boise in 2009. He also could see action on special teams.
Brown is considering Law School in the future but first wants to concentrate on finishing his senior season healthy. It’s been an up-and-down career for Brown at Boise State, but he’s hoping to make the most of his final chance.
“I just want to contribute any way I can, whatever the coaches need me to do on defense or special teams,” Brown said. “I’m just going to try and contribute and make plays and whenever the opportunity presents itself, just try to make the play.
“When you’re a senior you just want to go out there and give it all you’ve got. My last year playing at Boise State — and it’s been very special being here — and I’m just trying to make sure I leave my impact on this program.”
Learning to play the piano would just be a bonus.