In the fifth round of the NFL draft Sunday, the Texans took two Brandons. But they come from perspectives as far apart as their schools are located from each other on two opposite coasts.
Stanford's Brandon Harrison and Virginia Tech's Brandon Frye were taken by the Texans with the 144th and 163rd picks in the draft, respectively. Harrison is a strong safety and Frye an offensive tackle who came to the draft via much different paths.
Harrison played corner and safety last year for Stanford and had few expectations in the draft. Frye's expectations the last few weeks were interrupted by the tragic shootings that killed 32 on the Virginia Tech campus two weeks ago.
"It was a terrible, terrible thing," Frye recalled of the day the gunman came to campus. "Our community has come together since then. It's a great community and a great student body. We pulled together and showed how strong we are as a community."
Frye was working out in the Tech athletic building and wasn't aware of the shootings until he tried to leave. The campus was then on lockdown for some time before he was allowed to leave.
Though he didn't know any of the victims, like everyone at Virginia Tech, Frye was affected by the catastrophe which came as he was looking forward to the draft.
"It kind of put things in perspective for me," Frye said. "This was supposed to be a big day in my life and it makes you realize how you should value every day in your life.
"At the same time, it didn't really take away from my excitement about this day. But it kind of put things in a different perspective."
Frye heard from his agent minutes before the Texans called Sunday and was surprised Houston took him. He had not started until his senior season last year and was bothered by an elbow dislocation and a sprained ankle during the season.
"To be honest, I don't know a whole lot about the Texans," Frye said. "I didn't really meet with them a lot and I didn't expect to be going to them. It wasn't one of those places I had talked with a lot or had worked me out or had shown much interest in me.
"I had heard from some other teams, but not them. I guess they had just seen some film on me and liked what they saw. But I'm ready to do whatever they want. I know they want to do some big things with their offensive line and I hope I can help right away."
Harrison started six games at safety and five at corner last year. He was an honorable mention All-Pac 10 pick and decided he wasn't going to let the draft worry him. Such plans don't always work the way you want them to.
"I told myself I wasn't going to watch the draft," Harrison said. "Then I ended up watching it for 11 hours yesterday and all this (Sunday) morning.
"It was a relief to get picked. It has been a long two days. I was just glad to get the call."
Harrison started 33 of 34 games his last three seasons at Stanford, finishing his career with 186 tackles (127 solo), five interceptions and 16 pass breakups. Still, he didn't know what to expect on draft day.
"It was tough," Harrison said. "I went into this weekend without a lot of expectations and then when you see a lot of guys you played against going in the draft and guys you know you could compete with, it was tough."
He doesn't care where the Texans want to play him.
"I was pretty interchangeable at Stanford, playing strong safety and free safety," he said. "We almost just went left or right depending on the offense. I think I can play anywhere and I'm just excited about getting a chance."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Carley is a veteran Houston sportswriter who has covered the NFL for more than 25 years. He has worked for such newspapers as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Houston Post, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and the National Sports Daily covering such teams as the Dallas Cowboys, the Houston Oilers, the Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders.