BOONEVILLE, Miss. - A quartet of Northeast Mississippi Community College student athletes made their four-year football careers known during a signing ceremony held in the Magnolia Room on the Booneville campus, Wednesday, February 3.
Brown kept his commitment to the University of Tennessee and new head coach Derek Dooley while John Ware will stay a Lion after signing with the University of North Alabama football program. Madden and Underwood both signed to play for long-time Troy University football coach Larry Blakeney.
"John brought the impact of a Division I player," said second-year Northeast head coach Ricky Smither. "He did everything that he was asked to do."
Brown was a cog in the Northeast defense that helped shut down opponents. Brown, a 6-0 290-pound defensive lineman, registered 80 stops on the year in Northeast's nine-game season. The native of Lakeland, Fla., finished with 45 solo tackles to go along with 35 assists and had 3.5 sacks on the season.
Madden, who was a two-way player for the Tigers, made a name for himself in the Tiger secondary during the 2009 season. Madden finished with five interceptions on the year for 144 yards and returned two of them for scores. While playing both ways for the Tigers, Madden caught seven balls for 74 yards - a 12.33 average and returned a pair of punts for Northeast. Madden also recorded over 50 stops on the season - 37 solos and 15 assists.
Underwood, a 6-6 310-pound offensive lineman, helped open the way for Northeast's first 1,000-yard rusher since Ricky Andrews of Colquitt, Ga., turned the trick during the 1991 season when he broke loose for 138 yards in the season finale against East Central to lead the Region XXIII in rushing with 1,017 markers.
"Both of them will be missed tremendously," Smither said of the Troy signees. "Troy is getting a pair of great players. They are high quality and character players."
Ware returned an interception 60 yards for a score to help Northeast end a 12-game losing streak during Week 3 of the season as the Tigers knocked off Itawamba Community College 28-21 behind three defensive scores. On the season, Ware finished sixth on the team in tackles with 55 – 35 coming via the solo route and had three sacks.
"John is a real intelligent individual," Smither said. "He can play on either level and is going to a place where they have a need for him."