The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Academy defensive end decommitted from Southern Mississippi and sent a National Letter of Intent to Penn State Wednesday, a transition lightning quick in the world of college football. But when compared to his recovery from an ACL tear? Hardly.
Brown played all of three games in the Knights' 2012 AISA Class AAA championship run, the victim of an ACL tear in his right knee in September. By January 2013, though, he was back on the floor playing basketball, a fitting segue to the tale Lions' head coach James Franklin told Wednesday.
Brown didn't visit Penn State before Signing Day, partially because he didn't have an offer from the Lions when the last visit weekend of the season began, and partially because he had a basketball tournament (in which he eventually won the most valuable player award).
"I feel good about my decision," Brown said. "The coaches were at Vanderbilt before and they were recruiting me most of my junior year, and then they moved to Penn State and kept recruiting me.
"They offered me there, and I felt good about it. I trust in the coaches; I trust in those guys. They've been sending me stuff about Penn State and the facilities and campus, and I heard the stadium holds 107,000."
Franklin said Wednesday he was pleased with the way Brown's recruitment worked out.
"It worked out best for everybody because they won the tournament, they were champions, he was the MVP and he still ended up at Penn State," Franklin said.
A 6-foot-4, 240-pounder, Brown played everywhere from tailback to outside linebacker to rush end for the Knights throughout his career. He was playing fullback when he was caught by a low block, leading to the knee injury.
Brown will play defensive end at Penn State, and despite never visiting — he will officially visit for the Blue-White game in April — his connection to linebackers coach and assistant head coach Brent Pry, defensive line coach Sean Spencer and Franklin is what his trust was built on.
After all, it was Pry who messaged the end at 2 a.m. Tuesday morning requesting he call the staff when he woke up. By roughly 8 a.m., he had an offer, and by Wednesday, he was committed.
"I called Coach Pry, and he offered me right then," Brown said. "He told me the plan to get my up for the spring game, and at the time I was committed to Southern Mississippi and didn't know what to do.
"You can't turn down Penn State, though, but I told him I wanted to think about it and call him back. I talked to my parents (April and Joel Brown), my coaches and a few of my teammates, and everybody felt really good about it."
After a senior season with over 100 tackles and four sacks playing mostly outside linebacker, Brown will arrive at University Park for good in June. He hopes to learn as much as he can about Penn State on his official visit, and see first-hand that the literature, video and pamphlets the staff has sent him is what they say it is. Video of the staff's reaction to his signing Wednesday morning was a good start.
It's been a long road for Brown, but he never questioned his ability to play again. He's not questioning Spencer's ability to coach him into a top-flight talent, either.
"I worked hard," Brown said. "It's easy to just give up and say ‘my knee is done, I can't come back.' But hard work is something my parents instilled in me, and that's what I did.
"What stands out about Coach Spencer is how fired up he is. He's a great guy," Brown continued. "He has a lot of energy and coaches with it. I'm just thinking ‘wow.' Every kid's dream is to play Division I football, and wanting to play at the biggest level. It's like a dream come true, and I can't put it into words. I just want to use my God-given ability now to work at it."