Don’t blink, because it will be over before it begins. His first step should be illegal; it isn’t fair to a 300-plus pound offensive tackle, who realizes he has no chance of defending against the speed, strength and relentlessness, as well as the devastating spin move the defender possesses.
The quarterback’s eyes widen and pan to the left. He knows that the security he needs is lacking, and he is about three seconds away from being pummeled into the ground. In a final attempt to motivate the left side of the line, he yells, “Ninety nine, ninety nine… set, go.”
Over the last five weeks, the fear has heightened, and the best pass rushing defensive end in college football, Florida State’s Everette Brown, has delivered. In games against Virginia Tech, Clemson and Maryland, the 6-foot-4, 252-pound Brown amassed 15 tackles, 11.5 for a loss and 9.5 sacks.
A major reason for the turn around is that Brown is capitalizing on the one-on-one matchups he’s seen recently. Brown struggled at the beginning of the year, as he was being double teamed and chipped when he came off the line. In recent weeks, teams have been challenging Brown and singling him up more often off the edge, and he’s been making them regret their decision.
Prior to this recent statistical avalanche, Brown only managed 11 tackles, seven for a loss and three sacks in the Seminoles first six games. With one game remaining against rival Florida on Saturday, Brown has 33 tackles, 20.5 for a loss and 12.5 sacks.
Last year, Brown started eight games at left defensive end and one game at right defensive end and collected a team-high 6.5 sacks. He also finished second on the team with 11.5 tackles for a loss (Geno Hayes finished first with 17.5). He was officially moved to the right side before the 2008 season.
After a promising sophomore season, Brown got off to a slow start as a junior, but is finishing strong.
Brown is an athletic, dynamic rush end who plays with a high motor and has tremendous quickness. He has an elite first step and a few signature moves that allow him to get up field. He’s deceptively strong, featuring a 480-pound bench press, and uses quickness and strength to his advantage. He uses his hands effectively, demonstrates good balance and coordination, and transitions well with the action. He’s relentless and is a terror in the backfield. He’s a high character guy with a no-nonsense attitude and is a tremendous leader.
As dominating as Brown can be; he’s a streaky performer who will disappear for a game and re-emerge the next week. He has to adjust to double teams and play to his strengths. He has to be more effective defending the run and shed blocks consistently. He has the ability to be a special talent at the next level, but it will be up to him to work at his craft and become a better all around player.
A month ago, the thought of Brown leaving Florida State and being tempted by NFL millions was a 50-50 proposition. Not because he wanted to stay another year to earn his degree; he will graduate in December, but his production didn’t live up to the hype through the first half of the season, and he was overwhelmed at the line of scrimmage. But after the month he’s put together and the progress he’s made, Brown is ready for the next level and will ultimately beat out Texas’ Brian Orakpo and Georgia Tech’s Michael Johnson for the right to be the first defensive end selected in the 2009 NFL Draft.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: email@example.com.