He’s a menacing defensive tackle on the football field, but Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) senior Andrew Brown showed a softer side this morning when former New York Giants All-Pro Tiki Barber surprised him at school with the 2013-14 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year trophy. Brown thanked his coaches and teammates by name before he paused to recognize his late mother.
“I need to thank my mother for raising me to be the man I am today,” said Brown, his voice thick with emotion. “I had an amazing 12 years with her and I’m so glad she was part of my life. I share this unbelievable award with her. Not bad for the fat, slow kid whose classmates used to make fun of him on the bus. Look at me now.”
Brown, whose mother died of cancer, has amassed 93 tackles entering the state title game, with 18 sacks, 31 tackles for loss, eight forced fumbles and six fumbles-recovered. A First Team All-State selection and a 2012 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Firstt Team honoree as named by USA TODAY, he has been chosen to play in the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game.
“I’m so impressed with his presence,” said Barber, a three-time NFL Pro Bowl selection and the leading rusher in New York Giants history with 10,449 career yards. “It says a lot about who he is as a person. Just a great nature. His numbers speak for themselves, but it’s the off-the-field stuff that will get him where he wants to go.”
The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Brown is rated as the nation’s No. 4 recruit in the Class of 2014 by ESPN. A two-way interior lineman, he leads Virginia’s most suffocating defense, which has notched five shutouts and allows 4.9 points per game. Oscar Smith is ranked 8th in the country by USA TODAY, the only Virginia school in the top 50. As a starting offensive tackle, Brown has helped pave the way for an attack that averages 45.4 points per game.
“Andrew Brown is fantastic,” said Tom Lemming, a recruiting analyst for the CBS Sports Network. “I saw [Pro Football Hall of Famer] Reggie White play at Howard High in Tennessee back in 1979, and Brown is the closest thing I’ve seen to him in 35 years in the business. He’s got the build, tenacity, aggressiveness and quickness to be a guy we talk about for a long time.”
The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Brown is now a finalist for the Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award. USA TODAY High School Sports administrates the nationwide selection process in collaboration with Gatorade.
Brown, 17, has maintained a weighted GPA of 3.64 in the classroom. A member of the National Honor Society, he has served as an usher at the First Baptist Church Camelot since 2011. He has also volunteered locally as an instructor with the Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office Youth Football Camp and as a student-ambassador for an Oscar Smith High youth-mentoring initiative. Brown will graduate early to begin attending classes at the University of Virginia during the upcoming spring semester.
Brown becomes the 10th prep athlete from Virginia and third football player to win national Gatorade honors, joining former NFL running back Terry Kirby of Tabb (Tabb, Va.), who won in 1988, and former NFL wideout Ronald Curry of Hampton (Hampton, Va.), the 1997 winner. Other national winners from Virginia include seven-time NBA All-Star Alonzo Mourning (1988), Atlanta Braves outfielder Justin Upton (2005) and the American record-holder in the mile, Alan Webb (2001).
California has produced the most national winners in the award program’s 29-year history with 60 followed by Texas (27), Florida (20) and Illinois (15).