As long as Tony Brown can remember football has been part of his life. The son of a coach, Brown has always been around the game soaking in schemes and learning drills.
The game is in his blood.
"It's always been a passion since I first put the pads on," Brown said. "I started football earlier than I was supposed to. I was six playing tackle football with like eight and nine year olds. I just always loved it."
When he first began to play running back was his position. He was stocky and fast and he liked having the ball in his hands. On defense he was a linebacker, but as he grew older it became clear his future was in the secondary.
It was only natural for Brown to end up in the secondary. His father, Tony Brown, was a cornerback at Purdue and Texas Tech before entering the coaching profession. His uncle, Sammy Walker, was an all-Southwest Conference cornerback before playing three years in the NFL. Even his mother, Tammy Walker-Brown, who was a Naismith All-American in high school before heading off to Texas Tech on a basketball scholarship, played cornerback in a women's professional football league.
It is safe to say he has adapted well to his role in the secondary. As a freshman at Beaumont (Texas) Ozen, he began to turn heads. Then he took a trip to Baton Rouge for an LSU summer camp and put himself firmly on the recruiting radar of Les Miles and his staff. It did not take long for the Tigers to become the first to extend an offer.
"Right after they offered me they were like No. 1 in the country and I was like 'I have one offer and it's from the No. 1 team in the country' and they ended up playing in the national championship," Brown said. "That was big for me."
Other programs quickly followed suit. Alabama, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Notre Dame, USC, the 6-1, 185-pound prospect now holds them all.
During the summer months Brown attended every camp and combine he could to show he was the No. 1 prospect around. This fall, he has visited LSU for games against South Carolina and Alabama, and was at Texas for their game against West Virginia.
Recruiting has been hot and heavy. He admits he grew up a fan of Texas and USC with Reggie Bush and Vince Young two of his favorite athletes. He also says he plans to run track and playing at the same school as his sister, Bealoved Brown, is of interest.
Many believe Texas and LSU to be his favorites in recruiting, but Brown says he is not ready to go that far. In fact when it comes to recruiting Brown says he is not ready to name any leaders.
Of course his focus is mainly on the football field. Since playing cornerback as a freshman, he has moved around a few more times, and as a junior in 2012 he has played cornerback, safety, and outside linebacker.
"Like when people ask me what I'll play whenever I get to college, I say I'll play whatever the defensive coordinator feels he needs a playmaker," Brown said. "If he needs a playmaker at outside linebacker that's where I'll be. If he needs one at corner that's where I'll be. If he needs one at safety that's where I'll be. I just try to have fun with it and wherever my they need me I just try to make plays wherever I'm at."
While he is more than willing to play wherever his coaches need him to play, cornerback is his favorite.
"I like competitng against someone else who is a top athlete and usually the best athletes are your running backs and receivers and DBs," Brown said. "They can be quarterbacks also, but where you show a lot of your talent is at DB and receiver. Locked in man-to-man you show you're the best athlete on the field by guarding him and keeping him from catching the ball. And at DB you're still making tackles and making plays."
At cornerback he loves lining up man-on-man. He models his game after Deion Sanders, Tyrann Mathieu, and Brian Dawkins. He runs track to ensure he is the fastest on the field. He has supreme confidence in his abilities and he knows when he steps on the field in a man-on-man situation he will not be beat. He is too prepared.
"First of all he won't catch the ball," Brown said. "Second of all I'm reading my keys and trying to be disciplined and remember everything I've learned throughout the summer and my life. I'm reading his hips, keeping my shoulders over my toes, don't step forward, don't go for his head fakes, thumbs up, hands on his shoulder."
Over the years, he has improved and developed by leaps and bounds. He has dedicated himself on the field, in the film room, and in the weight room.
Brown may have been born with football running through his veins, and blessed with natural talent that initially caught the attention of college coaches across the country. However, it is his work ethic, dedication, and focus that were drilled into him by his parents, family, and coaches that sets Brown apart from the rest.