Shaking The Stigma

Entering his freshman season at NC State, Andre Brown's goal wasn't to win the ACC Rookie of the Year award or to even earn All-ACC honors.

The freshman from Greenville, North Carolina hoped to be named Academic All-ACC, and after posting a 3.35 grade point average this fall he just might reach his goal. For now, he is happy to have earned Dean's list honors.

"It meant a lot," Andre Brown told Pack Pride. "Going through the struggle that I went through, it proves to me that I'm not dumb at all, I was just lazy in high school. That's all it was.

"It just means a lot to me. I'm more of a student-athlete now. That stigma is out there, but I'm no longer labeled as that kid that didn't qualify coming out of high school. I'm doing what I need to do in college so I feel great about it."

Brown isn't the only one pleased with his academic achievements. Wolfpack head coach Chuck Amato praised his star player's effort in the classroom.

We were happy about it," said Amato. "That's the kind of young man he is. A young man goes to a prep school out of high school and right away people put a stigma on him.

"He goes to class, he uses the academic support staff, does what he's suppose to, he studies hard, and he made the Dean's list."

North Carolina's 2003 Associated Press Player of the Year, Brown rushed for 3,479 yards (a state single-season record) in leading Rose High School to the 4A state championship. He inked with NC State that February, but failed to qualify academically.

Andre Brown
Brown, who had hoped to be battling T.A. McLendon for the Wolfpack's starting tailback position in 2004, instead was in Chatham, Virginia. There he attended Hargrave Military Academy, and made the most of the situation.

"When guys go to a prep school they are usually just lazy," Brown said. "A place like Hargrave gives you that structure. It helps you learn how to study and how to take time to do what you have to do to get where you want to get.

"I feel that if you go in there and apply yourself it can work out great. It worked for me. It can work for anybody."

Brown finished his freshman season as NC State's leading rusher with 616 yards and five touchdowns on 117 carries. His college experience has been fun, even if it was delayed a year.

"It's been fun for me," Brown said. "Especially since it took me a year to get here. It's been a great experience, and to still be playing football in late December is great."

Brown and fellow freshman Toney Baker give NC State an explosive, yet youthful backfield. Sharing carries during the Wolfpack's final five games, both players are integral parts of NC State's offensive attack.

"They kind of complement one another," Amato said of his two freshmen. "Toney just hammers and breaks tackles. Andre's just kind of boom, boom, boom and accelerates and breaks tackles."

Toney Baker

How is their relationship off the football field?

"Toney and I are friends," said Brown. "That's my boy. We play around, we hang out at night, we go and do everything that normal friends do."

Baker and Brown lead an NC State offense that is blessed with plenty of young talent. Quarterback Marcus Stone is just a sophomore and fellow sophomore Anthony Hill is an emerging star at tight end. Versatile sophomore Darrell Blackman is an All-ACC special teams player and will add speed at the wide receiver position, and coaches rave about redshirting freshman wide receiver Geron James.

There is even youth along the offensive line, where true freshman Curtis Crouch received plenty of snaps down the stretch and redshirt sophomore Kalani Heppe started six games this season.

The young talent on the offensive side of the ball excites Brown.

"It's going to be fun," he said. "We're so young and all we're going to do is just grow into the offense together. It was weird for me because I didn't redshirt, and I had to learn as I go.

"I'm pretty sure that when spring ball comes around I will know everything. I should know the gist of the offense and we can execute very well next season from the beginning to the end."

But for now NC State is focusing on South Florida, the Wolfpack's Meineke Car Care Bowl opponent. Featuring a defense ranked No. 17 in the country in total defense, the Bulls will provide a stiff test for Brown and the offense, but he feels they will be ready.

"We've watched a lot of film," he said. "They mainly run an under defense, and they bring their safeties up a lot. I know they are going to put eight or nine in the box since we are running so well.

"It's just about us getting on our blocks and hitting our holes. We just have to do what we need to do to get through that nine because when we get in the secondary we're gone."

Pack Pride Top Stories