Like his bosses - Bryan Harsin and Marcel Yates - Julius Brown needed to leave Boise State because his progress was stymied.
And like his bosses, that decision paid off quickly when Boise State needed to rebuild its coaching staff last winter.
Brown, a three-year starting cornerback for the Broncos who spent six years in behind-the-scenes positions on the football staff, returned in January as the defensive backs coach.
"It's really a dream come true to be able to coach at the place you played at, to coach the position you played, and to do it on a great staff," Brown said.
Brown made his full-time coaching debut in 2012 at Troy, where he was the cornerbacks coach. It was a brief stay, but just the break he needed.
"He turned out to be a really good find," Troy coach Larry Blakeney said. "He was a good on-the-field coach and he was a really good recruiter. He's already a good one, and I think he's got a chance to be a really good one as he grows and matures."
Brown's largest influence at Troy occurred in recruiting.
"He understands that recruiting is 24/7 - it's not something you lay down at the end of the day," Blakeney said. "It's something you take with you. We learned some from him. Any time the rules allow you to touch a kid or talk to a kid or see a kid or bring him in, you better do it. He understands that."
Brown began coaching in 2005 at Capital High at the suggestion of former Boise State coach Chris Petersen. Petersen added him to the Broncos' staff as a graduate assistant when he became the head coach in 2006.
That's when Brown knew coaching was his future.
"I loved coaching at Capital, and I think that's kind of when I got the bug," he said.
He worked in football operations in 2006 and was an offensive graduate assistant coach in 2007-08. He shifted back to the operations side from 2009 to 2011, making an impact as an on-campus recruiter. He helped expand the Broncos' reach by identifying recruits outside of their usual territory, like Atlanta linebacker Tommy Smith.
But his job - director of player personnel - did not permit Brown to coach.
"When the opportunity to go to Troy came up, it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up because you're on the field - you're coaching," Brown said. "You're able to get away and learn some new ideas. It was a great experience. It was great to get my feet wet and start coaching."
Brown left Troy to join Harsin at Arkansas State in 2013. They were together at Boise State for many years, including Brown's two years as the offensive graduate assistant under Harsin, who was the offensive coordinator.
That led Brown back to Boise State. Yates, the new defensive coordinator, was the cornerbacks coach during Brown's senior season. He and Harsin chose Brown to fill a critical role on the staff - coaching five of the 11 starters on defense (two cornerbacks, two safeties, one nickel).
"(Harsin) told me to sleep on (the offer)," Brown said. "I told him: 'For what? No need to.' "
Brown and Yates remained close after each left Boise State in 2012. Brown visited Yates at Texas A&M last year as part of coaches' offseason professional development.
"He was a smart football player," Yates said. "He's a hard worker. When you put those things together as far as a coach, you probably have a good coach. He can recruit. He knows talent. And he wants to be great. He was a no-brainer."
Brown steps into one of the most pressure-filled spots on Harsin's staff. He inherits a position group that has produced six NFL Draft picks since 2008 - and he'll work for the man credited with creating that tradition.
Yates avoided Brown's meeting room in the spring out of fear that he would take over.
"With me being a secondary guy," Yates said, "the one thing we can't be bad at is the secondary. He's feeling that pressure, and I'm feeling that pressure, too."
Brown, though, figures Yates' presence will help him.
"He's really been an asset for me," Brown said. "I bounce ideas off of him. He gives me ideas. It's been a great relationship. For me, I have a lot of comfort knowing that I have someone I can go to who has been through it."
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat