Size, speed and determination. Those are three attributes that are very attractive to college coaches when they are looking for receivers that can be difference-makers in today's popular spread offenses.
Enter Fortier-New Orleans wideout Eddie Brown (6-3, 200, 4.4). His name did not pop up on many recruiting radars early in 2002 like some of the more highly touted receivers in the state. But once word got out on this fleet-footed prep star, college coaches from all over began to show interest.
"They just love him," said Fortier coach Robert Welch in reference to the coaches that continue to call on his young player. "We had about four or five scouts at the game last week. When they saw him in person, they said he was much more of a force in person than what they saw on film."
Brown is often coined a young player, not necessarily because of his age but based on the fact he has played organized football for only a little more than three years. That, however, has not prevented schools from offering scholarships, and he has a pretty impressive list of offers that continues to grow.
"Colorado and LSU are my top two," said Brown, who has the necessary grade point average to qualify but has yet to take the standardized test.
Out of his two leaders, each school is pretty close in what it has to offer but there is one thing that Colorado lacks in and that is proximity to Brown's home.
"LSU is close to home and it has good academics, good facilities, and real good coaching," Brown said. "LSU is also in the top 25 every year under coach (Nick) Saban and it plays in the SEC. I want that exposure and the chance to play on TV each week."
Saban took the time to form a bond with Brown over the summer and many think that it is only a matter of time before Brown pledges his services to the Tigers' third-year coach. Brown, though, is not quick to tip his hat to anyone and said he does not have a clear leader at this point.
"I think he (Saban) has done a wonderful job since he has been there," Brown said. "I met with him over the summer at his camp and he seemed like a good man. He told me to keep up the good work and he would be in touch with me. Then he came with an offer. He kept his word."
One thing that really sticks out with Colorado is the inroads Buffaloes coach Gary Barnett has made with recruiting Louisiana players, as of late through the efforts of CU assistant and New Orleans native Vance Joseph. The Buffaloes have already received commitments from two players in Louisiana for 2003 (LB Travis Berry, O.P. Walker; LB James Alford, East Jefferson) and are actively recruiting several more high-profile kids from the state. So, if Brown decided to take his talent to Boulder, Colo., he would have a little local flavor to make the transition easier.
"I like the academics and the fact they won the Big 12 last year," he said. "It seems like they go to a bowl game just about every year. I would also have a chance to start there."
Whoever Brown ends up signing with on National Signing Day will be getting a player that is rough around the edges, due to his inexperience, but one who has tons of potential.
"He is probably the best receiver I have had in a long time," said Welch. "I've never had anyone with all of his physical attributes. He has the height, speed and toughness to succeed wherever he goes.
"Eddie is really good at going across the middle. He is a big receiver that can make plays. His blocking is a positive but his ability to make catches in a crowd is incredible. I really believe his best years are ahead of him. The sky is the limit."
Brown agrees with his coach's assessment in many ways and thinks his height gives him an edge over some of the smaller cornerbacks he matches up with.
"I'm big," he said, "and most of the cornerbacks are not as big as I am, so I can just out duel them. I can run, cut and jump, and that gives me an advantage over the smaller corners. I can go deep and across the middle. I can do it all."
For now, both Brown and Welch want to focus on the two remaining regular season games left on Fortier's schedule and then hopefully prepare for some playoff games. Fortier was 6-2 after beating Cohen 16-0 last Friday, and a couple of more wins would all but lock up a playoff bid for the Tarpons.
"The season has gone alright so far," Brown said. "I've been triple-teamed almost every down but I've still been able to make plays."
Look for Brown to make many more plays in the future when he learns the finer points of his position and gets to play in more man-to-man situations. That has to be a scary thought for some cornerbacks in the SEC and Big 12 Conference.