Star Receiver Impacts Community

The Ocean Springs High football game is over, but the children don't go home. They migrate over to the locker room, anywhere from 20 to 30 kids, ages ranging from seven to 12. They play around and wait with their pens and footballs ready, ready for their favorite player, hero and mentor DeAndre Brown to emerge and sign.

"It's pretty crazy," said Brown, who will be one of the most sought after receivers in the 2008 recruiting class.

Most of the children already have Brown's autograph, but they want it again. They love him. Not just for his talents on the football field, but because Brown spends a lot of his free time with them at the YMCA, or he goes by their elementary schools teaching them right from wrong.

Brown's already a role model, and he takes it seriously. He carries a 3.3 GPA and lets the kids know he is on track to go to college. Most of the Southeastern Conference schools want him. Brown says he has scholarship offers from LSU, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn, Michigan, Miami, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Marshall.

"That's about all I can think of right now," Brown said.

Then there is enough mail to keep the post office busy every day. Letters are flowing in, including ones from Notre Dame.

Brown is pretty busy himself. When football season is over, he stars as a small forward on the basketball team (currently 18 points and 10 rebounds per game) before wrapping the school year up with track and being base stealer on the baseball team. Yet he still finds time to hang out with the town's youth.

"For the simple fact I love kids and anything I can do for the community, because they've given me so much courage and help during my three years of playing varsity football," Brown said.

"Basically, I tell them hard work all the time, don't do drugs, keep your grades up."

Brown was the first freshman to make varsity at Ocean Springs in five years. He had one touchdown reception in helping the team reach the Class 5-A state title game. Later that year in track, he won the 200-meter dash state championship in a time of 22.1.

Sophomore year is where Brown broke out. He had 39 receptions for 700 yards (17.9 avg.) and seven touchdowns. Double-teamed on almost every down this season, Brown caught 21 passes for 345 yards and six touchdowns. Looking to get Brown the ball more, he also lined up at quarterback where he rushed for over 300 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran back three kickoffs for scores.

"I try to model my game after Calvin Johnson of Georgia Tech," he said.

The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Brown missed out on last year's track season after having an ankle injury that required surgery.

"I rehabbed, and I was fully recovered and back in time for the football season," he said.

Brown says he has run a 4.49, 40-yard dash, can bench press 280 pounds and squat 300 pounds. Last year he attended the Nike Camp at LSU and ran a 4.3 shuttle, clocked a 4.5 forty and had a 35-inch vertical. His next chance to impress will be at the U.S. Army All-American junior combine in San Antonio, January 4-6.

At the LSU camp, Brown met Marshall Mangum, a motivational speaker he is now close with.

"He is from (the Ocean Springs) area," Brown said. "Whenever he would come here, he asked me to help out with the kids."

Brown said that him and Mangum are planning on making a trip up to South Bend this summer to see Notre Dame.

"Most likely their winning tradition," Brown said when asked what impresses him about Notre Dame. "I like the way the receivers are coached. They look well disciplined and stuff like that."

Brown said that he doesn't anticipate making a college decision quickly.

"I think most likely it will be signing day," he said. "If there is a college I'm really interested in then maybe earlier, but I'm thinking towards signing day."

On signing day 2008, maybe Notre Dame, like the children of Ocean Springs, will have Brown's autograph. Top Stories