Tony Brown’s mom and dad have taught him well, that much is clear.
Tony Brown ranks as nation's No. 14 prospect for 2014
Brown, a standout cornerback from Beaumont (Texas) Ozen, comes from a family of coaches. His father, Tony, served as the defensive coordinator for his high school team. His mother, Tammy Walker-Brown, is Ozen’s head girls basketball coach.
Brown and his family were dealt quite a blow last fall when his father suffered a stroke. But Brown and his family have pulled together and pressed on.
“My dad always told me that adversity makes you stronger,” Brown said. “It has definitely made our family stronger. I use it as a boost in my workouts. I think about it for my games and big races.”
The 6-1, 190-pound Brown is a true two-sport star. He is rated as the nation’s No. 14 prospect overall, the nation’s No. 2 cornerback and the state of Texas’ No. 2 prospect in the 2014 class, according to 247Sports.com. At the same time, he has established records as a state champion hurdler.
Brown comes from a true athletic family. His dad played cornerback at Purdue and Texas Tech. He also ran track and was a conference champion in the 200-meter dash. His mother was a basketball player for Texas Tech from 1988-91. Her twin brother Sammy Walker played in the NFL for Green Bay and Oakland.
And his sister, Bealoved Brown, has competed internationally in track. She has signed with LSU, where she will be on a women’s track scholarship.
“I feel like the genetics are there,” Tony Brown said. “I also have an outstanding work ethic. I feel like that separates me from everybody else in the country. I feel like I want it more than anybody else in the country. I feel like my track background helps me.”
Beyond the genetics, Brown said his parents instilled the discipline and work ethic as coaches to help him with his career.
Brown was fourth in the SPARQ rating at the Nike camp in Dallas in April
“It definitely helps having parents that coach,” said Brown, who also boasts a 3.7 GPA. “They come home and have told me about their players and the problems they’ve had. Things arise from players who are good like selfishness and things like that. I know I have to be coachable. You can run a 4.3 40, but if you’re not coachable nobody is going to coach you or pay you to play for them. That’s one thing I learned. You have to be truthful, listen when the coach is talking and don’t talk back.
“You have to have that discipline. Coaches will tell you, ‘We need you to have character.’ And character goes hand in hand with discipline. Plus, my dad was a defensive coordinator and was a corner himself. I have grown up around that and it helped me with that position.”
Keeath Magee took over as Ozen’s new head football coach this past winter. He has had a chance to work with Brown this spring as he juggled his track and football schedules.
“He is a coach’s kid,” Magee said. “He’s been around it ever since he was small. He’s seen his dad coach and watched his mom coach. He’s been around it. He brings that to the table.”
A Special Prospect – In Two Sports
Brown first made a splash in football as a freshman at Ozen in 2010, when he tallied 95 tackles, 14 pass break-ups and an interception. He became a household name among recruitniks after his sophomore year in 2011, when he logged 96 tackles, 16 pass break-ups, three interceptions and a fumble recovery as the Panthers went 7-6.
As a junior, Brown was named to the USA Today second-team All-USA team. He had 46 tackles, four forced fumbles and an interception for the Panthers, who struggled to a 4-7 finish.
“I feel like I am more of a physical corner because of my size and stature,” Brown said. “I like to use that against receivers. I have long arms and I’m strong and I try to use those on the receiver. I can be a finesse corner as well. I pride myself on playing man coverage.
Brown set a Class 4A state meet record with a time of 13.4 seconds in the 110-meter hurdles
“I know you can’t go to the NFL being one dimensional. I work on all facets of my game.”
Magee talked about some of the traits that set Brown apart.
“Number one, he’s a big corner,” the coach said. “He has the ability to play man out on the edge. He is also fast. He is unmistakably fast. That will bode him well. You will not see many guys at our level have his type of speed like that.
“I think he is a tremendous athlete. He is one of the hardest workers we have. He is a tremendous young man. He comes from a great family with a lot of support from his mom and sister. His dad is doing better. He is improving.
“Tony is a great kid. He is doing everything he can to succeed. It will be interesting to see how the season goes.”
Brian Perroni, who tracks recruiting across the Southwest for 247Sports.com, has been watching Brown in games and at camps since his freshman year.
“Tony Brown is a track star whose speed actually translates to the football field,” Perroni said. “It is tough to beat him deep. He's a versatile prospect in that he can play cornerback or safety. He's a thick kid but will still likely be a corner at the next level.
“He's also a great kid off the field. He is a yes sir, no sir type that simply works hard. He has offers from pretty much every school in the country but he continually shows up to camps and combines to compete to get better and try to prove he is the best. I really like that competitive streak.”
Brown’s physical attributes are, in a word, impressive. He has been clocked at 4.34 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He also benches 290 pounds and squats 475.
He affirmed his national rankings at the Nike Football Training Camp on April 7 in Dallas, when he finished fourth in the SPARQ ratings. He was timed at a camp-best 4.37 seconds in the 40. He was second in the pro shuttle (3.91 seconds) and also had a 34-inch vertical leap.
But Brown said he can’t rest on his laurels, lofty rankings or any other outside praise.
“There are two sides to that coin,” he said. “On one hand, I can be like, ‘Yeah, I feel good about this ranking.’ But on the other hand, it can also go the other way and people could take it the wrong way. I can say that it doesn’t matter because there have been guys who are two stars and not ranked but they go on and win the Thorpe Award. That’s what (Mississippi State’s) Johnthan Banks did.
“You can take it as a positive thing if you are ranked highly. If you’re not, you can’t worry about it and use it as a catalyst. If you forget all the work you’ve put in to get that high ranking, it can hurt you. My mom tells me to stay humble and remember the things that helped me get to where I am today.”
On several occasions, Brown has discussed his desire to also compete as a track athlete and train for a shot at a spot on Team USA for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
During the indoor track season, Brown clocked the fastest high school time in the nation in the 60-meter hurdles with a 7.76-second showing at the Simplot Games in Pocatello, Idaho.
He wrapped up his season by winning the state championship in the 110-meter hurdles in a Texas Class 4A record time of 13.4 seconds. He was also second in the 100-meter dash in a blistering 10.53 seconds.
One of Brown’s top competitors in national meets was Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey, who is coincidentally the nation’s top-ranked cornerback by 247Sports.com. Most believe Humphrey is favoring Alabama, a school Brown is also considering.
“I’m aware of him,” Brown said of Humphrey. “I raced him and beat him. Guys like him make you want to work even harder. I’m either working out or sleeping. There is no in between for me.”
Narrowing The Field
Brown has over 30 scholarship offers from nearly every major college powerhouse program. However, in an interview over the weekend, Brown said he is not admitting to any favorites.
“I really don’t have a list,” he said. “I will sit down and come up with a list probably in July.”
The schools that are primarily mentioned with Brown include LSU, Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, Texas and Texas A&M.
Last fall, Brown saw Alabama play Michigan outside Dallas and also attended games at LSU, Texas and Texas A&M. This winter and spring, he made unofficial visits to Texas, Alabama, Florida State, LSU and Baylor. An Ohio State assistant has also made recruiting visits this past month to see Brown in his hometown.
The 247Sports.com Crystal Ball has 20 predictions for Brown’s college choice and it is unanimous that he will verbal to LSU.
"It would be cool going to the same school (as his sister)," Brown told the Beaumont Enterprise in a recent interview. "I know we're being recruited by the same school and I'm looking at that school highly. It doesn't really change anything because they were already high on my list."
During the most recent interview with 247Sports.com, Brown spoke in general terms about what he is looking for in a school.
“First and foremost, I want to know their plans for me,” Brown said. “I am a track runner and I do want to compete in the hurdles. I am graduating early. It will also be about how I feel there and how my mom feels there. It will be a very important decision for me and my parents.
“How good their track team is matters as well. I’m also looking at it from an academic standpoint. I’m not really worried about playing time. I feel wherever I go I can earn a spot. That’s how every player should feel.”
It is understandable that family considerations will factor into Brown’s decision. According to Coach Magee, Brown’s father had recovered enough to attend one of his track meets earlier in May.
“He is recovering and he is doing better,” Magee said. “He was able to come to the regional track meet and could see him compete.”
Tony Brown said he did not know until after the meet his dad was present.
“I actually did not know he was there,” he said. “He was in the press box.”
The younger Brown did not want to elaborate on his dad’s health status other than to say, “He’s doing a lot better.”
Click here for video highlights of Brown in action.
Not a 247Sports subscriber? Click here to find your favorite team’s site and take a free trial.