2011 Intro: Devonte Brown

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. --- A couple of weeks before last year's football season, Richard Bailey, Britt High School's head football coach, received a gift – a 6-foot-4, 260-pound lineman named Devonte Brown.

"You don't see kids like that just walk into your office," Bailey said. "And that's what he did two weeks before the season started."

Brown attended East Bladen High School during both his freshman and sophomore years. He started at offensive tackle for the football team, which played for the NCHSAA 2A State Championship in 2008.

In August, Brown and his mother moved to Fayetteville, forcing him to transfer to Britt.

"He came to us very raw," Bailey said. "… He didn't know how to use his hands. He was a bull in a china shop as far as technique, staying low, using his hands – the things at this level you have to do. He was obviously used to being bigger than anybody he was blocking. Well, here [in the 4A level] everybody has big kids."

Bailey moved Brown to defensive tackle, where he rotated with Eric MacLain and Josh Slaughter. Playing time was determined by how well the linemen practiced during the week prior.

"I had actual competition," Brown said. "Instead of being the biggest and playing automatically, I had to get faster and prepare myself for the game and stay focused."

Brown began the season receiving roughly ten snaps a game. He ended it by starting the NCHSAA 4A State Championship game and seeing approximately 30 snaps.

"If you tracked him from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, it's almost like a different person," Bailey said. "He really got better…His progression was just amazing."

On the season, Brown accumulated 41 tackles, including three for a loss, and a pass breakup.

While cutting up highlight film, Bailey began to truly realize what type of player he had on his hands.

"I started seeing some things that were jumping out at me," Bailey said. "I was like ‘Wow, I can take that play right there and he can get a scholarship anywhere in America on that one play."

In a matter of a few weeks, that one play and several others landed Brown scholarship offers from Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, NC State, and West Virginia.

"Nobody that has looked at [Brown's] film, hasn't offered him," Bailey said. "Nobody has seen it and said ‘Coach, we're going to wait a little bit.' No it's ‘Coach, you let him know we're offering him, we're faxing it in right now.'"

Every school that has offered MacLain, who is perceived as one of the top in-state recruits, has offered Brown, with the exception of South Carolina. The Gamecocks haven't received film on Brown and actually offered MacLain without film.

"There are not going to be five-six players in this state that are going to be higher recruits than Devonte when it's all said and done," Bailey said. "He'll be a multi-, multi-offer guy. I'm talking [an offer list like] Xavier Nixon – 30-40 offers from the United States."

In addition to Nixon, who started at Florida this past season as a true freshman, Bailey has sent ten players to Division I-A programs, including six to BCS schools, in ten years as head coach.

"[Brown] has an incredible motor – he does not quit," Bailey said. "With his size potential and his speed – he's a legit 4.8 [40-yard dash] guy – I think he's a prototypical defensive tackle."

Additionally, Bailey believes Brown has yet to reach his full potential.

"His upside is through the roof," Bailey said. "He's just now getting coached and he wasn't in the weight room first semester... He was in the weight room for about two weeks before the season started [and] he didn't lift all football season. He's back in the weight room now."

Brown, who grew up following UNC, isn't favoring any schools.

"I'm just going to give everybody a chance and hope for the best," Brown said. "Right now, I'm just trying to look at every opportunity."

Brown isn't exactly sure when he'd make a verbal commitment.

"I just go with the flow," Brown said.

Over the weekend, Brown made his first recruiting trips. He attended junior days at Clemson and NC State.

UNC's Junior Day on Feb. 13 was supposed to be Brown's first recruiting trip, but snowy weather prevented the visit from taking place. He and Bailey are now planning to visit Chapel Hill this coming Tuesday.

UNC and NC State have both invited Brown to camp this summer. Already having offers from both schools, he plans to accept the invite and use the camps for instruction purposes.

For his senior season, Brown will see snaps at offensive tackle, in addition to being a major part of Britt's defense.

"With him coming in so late, it was a lot easier to learn one-technique than it is to learn how to play offensive tackle in our offense," Bailey said. "We're a no huddle, hand signals, spread [offense]. It would have been overwhelming for him coming to us as late as he did."

Regardless, Brown's value for Britt remains on the defensive side.

"We'll let him play all the time on defense, but we'll put him in as an alternate tackle on offense," Bailey said.

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