What Can Brown Do For You?
This article appears in the September 2004 edition of SchoolSports magazine.
Luthur Brown grew up at a fork in the road. Literally.
Brown's home until three years ago was a little house at the edge of some woods in Monticello, Miss. — a small town on the banks of the Pearl River with a male population of just 756. The nearest city was Brookhaven, population 9,800, which was about 23 miles away and roughly 90 miles from Baton Rouge, La.
It's no wonder Brown's teammates at Lakewood call the All-American senior linebacker "Country Boy."
"It was a lot different there," admits the 6-foot-3, 227-pound Brown, who is rated the nation's No. 1 linebacker and No. 4 overall football recruit in the Class of 2005 by SchoolSports.com. "The houses aren't that close together, so the people who get to know each other there are pretty close together."
Given those circumstances — few neighbors and even fewer casual conversations as a kid — it's almost hard to imagine a country boy like Brown cutting it in Greater L.A. How on earth did this guy get up to speed?
"I can fit in with any group of people, quiet or loud. I can adjust," says Brown, who was actually born in Inglewood and moved back to California a few years ago with his father of the same name. "I'm not afraid to talk. Ask me a question and I'll answer it."
That's an invitation Brown didn't need to extend twice.
OK, Luthur, doesn't the media crunch you're experiencing these days bother you the least bit?
"It's very hard to disturb me," he answers. "Half the stuff I read they've either rewritten what I said or added something to it. I know that didn't come from me, that I didn't say that, so I don't let it affect me."
So, what's your take on all this talk about preps going pro in football?
"I wouldn't go straight out of high school," he says. "Those guys (in the NFL) have been lifting, working on their body and training for years longer than I have.
I wouldn't be ready. Still, if you feel like it's your only shot, I wouldn't tell someone never to consider it."
Well, then give us your top five college choices at the moment.
"I don't believe in a top five," says Brown, who nonetheless has received scholarship offers from more than two dozen schools, including powerhouses USC and Miami. "These schools are going to pay for my education. They put me in their top five, not the other way around. I've got written offers from a lot of teams, and whoever gives me the best offer, I'm going to take it. I won't be picky."
Luthur Brown may get misquoted, but he doesn't lie. Ask him a question — any question — and he'll answer it. From the heart. And without missing a beat. Country boy, indeed.
Fact is, Brown doesn't just talk. He's downright fun to talk to.
"He's such an amicable and likeable kid, you just want to help him out as best you can," says Lakewood fifth-year head football coach Mike Christensen, 40, a Roosevelt High alum who spent two years as a walk-on outside linebacker at USC.
"Not because of who he is as a player, but because of who he is as a person. He's had to overcome a lot with family issues and moving and coming from a small town, but he understands that's the way it is. That's the hand you've been dealt, and he just deals with it."
Of course, the reason we're all talking about Brown in the first place is his doomsday play at linebacker. He made 136 solo tackles during the past two seasons combined, and Christensen assures us the Lancers' stat guys would sooner resign than pad those digits. There are occasions, says Christensen, when Brown will shake his head in bemusement while watching assistants stingily grade out his tackle numbers on film.
Point is, Brown is around the ball. A lot.
"His speed, passion and intensity are unique," says Christensen. "He plays like a junior in college. In fact, I went to all the Pac-10 school practices this past spring, and I think he could contribute right now. A lot of those coaches have seen him, and they've told me they don't have anyone in their program right now that looks like him. I think four years from now, we'll hear his name called early in the (NFL) draft."
Brown plays like he's been shot out of a cannon. In the Lancers' 3-4 defensive alignment, he is free to read and react, allowing his instincts to be his guide. Teammate and fellow outside linebacker Adrian McCovey, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound senior who is also a Division I college prospect, makes Brown even more dangerous by dividing the attention of opposing blocking schemes.
And thanks to hours of drilling with Lakewood linebackers coach Mike Reed, Brown remains a disciplined field presence. He is assignment oriented, not a freelancer.
"I'm a highly aggressive player," says Brown, whose mother, Elaine, and older brother, Corey, still live in Mississippi (his parents are divorced). "I hate to lose, and I was always real competitive growing up with a big brother. I was small, and getting beat got to me. But the key is not to let any of the talk now get to my head. You can't think you can do something just because it says you can in some newspaper. You gotta keep working.
"You've got to work toward becoming the perfect athlete," adds Brown, who will turn 18 in April. "No matter how good you get, there's going to be somebody out there with more natural talent. You gotta prepare yourself so you can play the game on your own terms."
Luthur Brown may have grown up in the backwoods of Mississippi. But don't forget, he grew up at a fork in the road. If nothing else, that experience has left him with a clear idea of which way he's headed. And how he'd like to get there.
Country boy, indeed.