MANKATO — The last time that LaMark Brown came to Mankato, things worked out pretty well.
Now trying to win a job with the Minnesoita Vikings, Brown is hoping some familiar surroundings boost his chances of playing professional football.
"Everything happens for a reason," Brown said, following Friday's morning walk-through at Minnesota State. "I don't want to have any regrets.
"When you get to a professional training camp, you know you're one of the best in the world at doing what you do. I'm thrilled to be back in Mankato and thrilled to have this opportunity."
Brown's first trip to Mankato was unlikely. After spending three seasons at Kansas State, Brown was looking for a better opportunity to finish his college career. Through connections at Kansas State, he ended up with the Mavericks, though his release wasn't granted in time to play in 2010.
After redshirting for a year, he played in 2011. He rushed 31 times for for 123 yards and four touchdowns, and made 31 receptions for 405 yards and five scores, hampered some by an ankle injury. But it was enough for him to get a chance in the NFL.
Brown was in training camp with Atlanta last summer, and after being released in the final cuts, he had short stints with Buffalo and Tampa Bay, with each organization trying to convert him to tight end.
"The biggest struggle I had was the weight and strength," he said. "They kept telling me to add weight, but they never said how much. It was a new position, new terminology ... I didn't know what to expect."
Brown signed late in the season with the Vikings and spent three weeks on the practice squad. Since the Vikings wanted him as a receiver, he re-signed in the offseason.
"I was thankful they gave me the opportunity to move back to receiver and earn a job," Brown said.
Brown was happy to be reunited with former teammate Adam Thielen. They were together for two years at Minnesota State, developing a big brother-little brother relationship.
"I've stayed in touch with Adam," Brown said. "I told him that he has the potential to do great things here."
Of course, Brown and Thielen are teammates but also competitors. With 12 receivers on the roster, only five or six will likely survive. It could come down to Thielen or Brown for a spot on the roster or practice squad.
"(The receivers) are all friends," Brown said. "We all want to have the best (position group) on the team. We all have a great opportunity here, and there's competition. At the end of the day, we're all trying to be the best we can be."
Brown said it was comforting Friday to walk from a familiar locker room to the field where he practiced for two years.
"There's a certain level of comfort when you know your surroundings, the weather, the practice fields," Brown said. "I'm very comfortable here."