On A Mission

This time a year ago, DeAndre Brown was still trying to recover from a gruesome leg injury and get into playing shape. What a difference a year makes. After a full spring and summer work-outs, he is bigger and faster than ever, and ready to take this offense to a new level. He gives GEP.com an in-depth update on his fall camp and expectations in an interview after practice today.

After Brown chose the Golden Eagles over seemingly every school in the southeast, Southern Miss fans knew they had landed someone special. A break-out freshman performance at USM proved everyone right and Brown showed the country why he was so highly sought after.

After suffering a vicious leg injury in the bowl game against Troy two years ago, many wondered if he would be able to return to form.

Last season, he fought his way back into game shape, but was not the DeAndre Brown fans were used to seeing until late in the season. Even not at full strength, he still managed 47 catches for 785 yards and 9 touchdowns, including a 95 yard touchdown reception.

In our after practice interview today, he talked about how far he has come from this point last season.

"I think my body has been well conditioned," he said on what he feels is the biggest improvement from last season. "My strength is fully back, and I am not having any problems with the leg."

"I feel like I am back to my old self, and I can now do things that I was able to do in my freshman year," he added.

The first test comes September 2nd in a showdown with South Carolina, and it is one Brown says he and the other wide receivers are ready for.

"We are really focusing on playing smart, fast, and physical," he said. "They are a big SEC school and we know we have to come out and hit them in the mouth because they are going to try and do the same to us."

Brown knows this team will be looking to him, and counting on him to lead.

"My role is to be a leader," he said. "You know I've been playing for three years since I was a freshman, and I am one of the only guys who are returning as a wide receiver. I know I have to lead and mentor the younger guys, and be there whenever they need help."

"I also know it is my job to make the play whenever my name is called and be that big time player that Coach needs me to be," he added.

Over the past three seasons, he has made a great connection with both quarterbacks Austin Davis and Martevious Young. The Golden Eagles are fortunate enough to have two quality quarterbacks who are proven and can be counted on to run this offense.

"Well Martevious is my roommate, so he and I are real close," he said. "When Austin went down me and him still had the same chemistry so it was like Austin never went down."

"As far as Austin coming back, me and him are really getting our rhythm down and his arm is a lot stronger," he added. "He is taking the leadership role to a different level, and we are following right behind him. Just having him back on the field is really good, and hopefully he will be able to lead us right to a win."

One of the biggest reasons for Brown learning some of the nuances of the wide receiver position has been the addition of former NFL coach Kasey Dunn as USM's receiver's coach. He has preached to Brown the importance of becoming a complete player.

"It is real important to me to be a complete player," he said. "At the next level you can't be great at just one thing; you have to be great at all things. I am just trying get there. I have a great coach in Kasey Dunn, who came from the Seahawks, so he is teaching me those things that are helping me in every aspect of the game."

"I am seeing it pay off and seeing those changes in my game for the better, and I like what I am seeing," he added.

Brown knows that for him to be successful, it will take the entire receiver core stepping up and taking some of the load off. I asked him who has impressed him so far in camp.

"Quinton Pierce, my little cousin, has really been impressive so far," he said. "Also William Spight, and Deon Hodges. Those guys haven't had a lot of playing time, but they are going to contribute well. They know what to do and when they get on the field they are going to use their talents and do what it will take for us to win."

"They are going to be a big part of the air attack," he said.

Brown, a Mississippi kid from the Gulf Coast, is proud to be a Golden Eagle. It has been a perfect fit for Southern Miss, and for him as well.

"It means everything to me," he said of what it means to be a Golden Eagle. "Me being a Mississippi boy, and I know there is not a better college in the state than Southern Miss because our fan base shows me great love. It makes me want to go out there and give it my all, put on a show, and get that win for them."

Brown gets his chance in a week in prime time. If there is one thing Southern Miss fans can count on, it is that #5 will be ready to go.

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