Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) defensive tackle Andrew Brown was today named the 2013-14 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound senior has led the Tigers to a 14-0 record and a berth in this Saturday’s state title game. Brown has amassed 93 tackles with 18 sacks, 31 tackles for loss and eight forced fumbles. A 2012 American Family Insurance ALL-USA First Team honoree as named by USA TODAY, he will graduate early to begin attending classes at the University of Virginia during the upcoming spring semester.
We sat down with Brown to better understand how he outshined more than 1 million high school football players nationwide to win the award.
Q: What’s it feel like to be on the same list as guys like Peyton Manning and Emmitt Smith, who have also won this award?
A: I’m speechless. And anyone who knows me will tell you that doesn’t happen often.
Q: How big a factor in your decision was the fact the UVA coaching staff and players made you feel like the school was ‘home’?
A: Comfort-level was the No. 1 factor in my decision.
Q: You mix and re-mix music under the production name ‘Drizobeats.’ Is that a pastime or a passion?
A: I’ve been producing music since the 8th grade and I really, really love it. I can’t wait to go the ESPYs with Player of the Year and grab Justin Timberlake on the red carpet. Thank God I have a MacBook Air because I’m going to take that with me to the carpet so I can show him some of my stuff.
Q: The music you create is pretty complex—lots of ascending and descending minor chords. Where’d you learn that?
A: I took piano classes for a year. We used electronic keyboards with headphones, and while all the other kids were practicing, I’d be working on chords and adding the backbeat in my head. No one else caught on because I had the headphones on.
Q: UVA is a school that’s produced U.S. presidents, Supreme Court justices and Nobel Prize winners. Does that academic environment intimidate you?
A: I see it as an opportunity to achieve greatness.
Q: You are such an aggressive defender. Do you have to be cautious of teams exploiting your quickness off the ball?
A: Yes. Something I’ve learned throughout this season is that I can’t always just rip and rush up field. If I’m not careful, I can get trapped and then the running back is gone. I have to maintain my gap responsibilities.”
Q: Given that your dad is a life-long UNC fan, how long before his wardrobe is all UVA orange?
A: It’s already begun. He’s looking for deals. He’s shopping for outerwear. You know what’s funny? Until recently, we had a UNC gnome in front of our house. Yeah, we had to put that away.