Brown wows NFL
Star wide receiver performs well at Combine
| Val Vita reporter |
Four years ago, John Brown felt he had lost everything. Now, he’s got a serious shot at pro-football fame.
On the night when Brown’s older brother, James, was shot three times outside a Miami nightclub, in July 2010, Brown’s cell phone was dead.
“And I left it dead,” said Brown, 23, who played as a wide receiver for the Pittsburg State Gorillas until 2013. “When I turned it on, there were a lot of voice mails and text messages. I called my mom and cried, but I didn’t believe. I just believed when I saw him.”
Brown went back to Homestead, Fla., right after he got the bad news, just in time to say goodbye to James, who eventually died.
“I thought about giving up on school, on life,” Brown said. “It was the end of semester and I didn’t want to come back.”
Brown recovered and performed well at Coffeyville Community College, before coming to Pitt State in 2011 after he was recruited by Tim Beck, head football coach.
Three years later, after a stellar career as a Gorilla, where, among other great achievements, he scored 32 touchdowns, Brown got the chance to compete at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium in the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine.
Though Pittsburg State is a renowned NCAA Division II school, this was still a remarkable event on its own: Brown is only the third Gorilla to go to the Combine in 25 years.
There, Brown came alive.
He posted the second-fastest time in the 40-yard dash, and won broad praise from sports journalists and league observers. It seems certain that Brown will have a place on some NFL team.
“The NFL has always been a dream of mine,” Brown said. “The Combine has been a great experience for meeting some of the biggest legends of coaches and players from the best college teams. I feel really good. I am a hard worker and I’m willing to help the team in the best way I can.”
Brown is considered an incredibly quick and versatile athlete, known at Pittsburg State as a runner, return man and wide receiver, who regularly challenged Midcontinent Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) records.
At the Combine, Beck says, Brown has performed “extremely well, like we thought he would do.”
“He is a natural,” Beck added. “His moves are very smooth and he is confident in his ability. He has already proved he belongs there. I think he will be drafted. Now it’s a just a matter of time.” The NFL draft will be held from May 8 to May 10.
Brown’s talent as a football player first came into being when he was 5 years old. His brother James first introduced him to the sport, in a suburb of Miami.
Challenges lay between Brown and the pros, however.
“My childhood was rough,” he said. “Growing up where there are a lot of gangs and violence, the only way to make it was playing sports.”
Of course, football wasn’t the only part of Brown’s plans.
“I want to be able to help kids back home that I know are going through the same things I did,” he said.
One kid in particular is important to him: his daughter, Caia, born in 2012.
The Pitt State legend and rising football star has a solid career ahead of him, with the support of his family behind him.
“I remembered what (James) always told me,” Brown said. “‘If I don’t make it, my little brother will.’”