Shannon Brown looking at fresh start
"The problems he had from the beginning of high school eventually caught up with him," said Cofer. "He busted his tail trying to catch up, but the hole he dug for himself early on was more than he could overcome. He left this morning. Last night I sent him a text telling him how proud I was of the man he had become while he was here."
East Mississippi Community College, located in Scooba, Miss., will allow Brown to complete his high school degree and begin earning credit for college courses.
"The plan is for Shannon to be there in the spring for practices and play in the fall," Cofer stated. "If everything goes well for him, he'll be ready to go to Alabama in a year and a half. I thought he'd be disappointed, but when I talked to him he was fired up. I think the change of scenery will do him well. He was frustrated in Adel, but East Mississippi gives him a fresh start academically."
After a big freshman season in which Brown rushed for more than 1,300 yards, he began taking off practices or not showing up at all. Brown slumped as a sophomore and gained only 600 yards. Going into game 10 of his junior season, a must-win for the Hornets, Brown was a no-show at practice and was subsequently dismissed from the team by then head coach Mac Thompson.
"It actually helped Shannon more than anything," said Cofer of the dismissal. "It made him miss football. He came out and ran track for me. At around 252 pounds, he was winning 100 meter sprints."
Coach Thompson passed away in early February suddenly at the age of 39. Ken Cofer took over as head coach. Under difficult circumstances the Hornets went 12-1 this year making it to the state quarterfinals in the playoffs.
"Shannon was a big part of this team's success," Cofer said. "I'm so proud of him and the leader he became. He really did a 180 as far as slacking off to growing up in the past year. That's the reason you get in the coaching business. When they change and mature right before your eyes, it's just thrilling."
Brown made 118 tackles on the year at linebacker with two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. He was used less on offense, but still rushed for more than 500 yards with 13 touchdowns. The biggest change came in Brown's weight. He lost 40 pounds from where he was as a junior to right around 210.
"Coach Saban was a little worried when he heard about it," said Cofer. "Then he saw film and told Shannon that he looked better and played better at that weight. It was mostly baby weight that he lost. He played lights out. Never took a break or asked for one. On defense he played every down. On offense we used him more sparingly. We had a goal line package for him which is why he had so many touchdowns."
Brown was named All-State and Georgia Class AA Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. William Jones, the defensive coordinator and linebacker coach at East Mississippi Community College, recruited Brown when he elected to take the JuCo route. Cofer says his commitment to Alabama football is still firm.
"Coach Saban and Coach (Jeremy) Pruitt have stuck by Shannon since Day 1," said Cofer. "When he was up there at camp, they yelled at him, had some choice words for him. I said you know they're not just putting on a show for you. They're real, and that's what you want to see. He wasn't necessarily placed there (at EMCC), but Coach (Kirby) Smart and Coach Pruitt know some of the people over there very well."
East Mississippi Community College is coached by Buddy Stephens. Quinton Dial, who was part of Alabama's recruiting class of 2009 out of Clay-Chalkville High School, has played at EMCC the last two seasons.
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