This marks the 30th anniversary of USA TODAY recognizing the nation's top high school athletes. As we prepare to unveil the 2012 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Football Team at the end of the season, we'll dig into the archives and check in with ALL-USA honorees from the past three decades. Today, we kick things off by catching up with the very first ALL-USA Offensive Player of the Year.
Being a linebacker is all about making adjustments and Arthur Brown is showing he can adapt.
Brown was a first-team American Family Insurance ALL-USA linebacker out of Wichita (Kan.) East in 2006. Considered one of the top recruits in the country, he signed with the University of Miami and then took a seat on the Hurricanes' bench.
In two seasons with Miami, he had only 17 tackles while playing sparingly before he transferred to Kansas State in 2010. For a lot of high-profile players who leave their first school, that's where the story frequently ends, their careers shortened or derailed by too much inconsistency or an inability to adapt to college football.
After sitting out the requisite year, Brown led the Wildcats with 101 tackles last season and was named the Big 12's Defensive Newcomer of the Year.
This year, the 6-1, 231-pound senior is picking up where he left off last season, leading the team with 55 tackles. He also helped Kansas State beat Miami for the second consecutive year, getting a team-high 10 tackles in a 52-13 victory on Sept. 8.
"My two seasons at Miami, they were great," Brown told the Palm Beach Post earlier this season. "They were beneficial to me in the long run. I didn't get to play a whole lot when I was there, but the time I was there, it helped prepare me for the opportunity I have now. I definitely recognize the experience helped me."
Last week, became the first player to intercept West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith this season. Ironically, in his only other interception, he ended Robert Griffin III's streak of 110 passes without an pick last season. Brown was also named a quarterfinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy on Tuesday.
Thanks in large part to a defense led by Brown, Kansas State is 7-0 and No. 3 in the Bowl Championship Series standings.
“I think our performance is due to our preparation throughout practice and being able to see our performance," Brown said. "It is really just the confirmation that we need to continue to be successful throughout the season.”
Brown's younger brother Bryce is in the midst of a similar turnaround in his career. Coming out of Wichita East a year later, Bryce signed with Tennessee but left the Volunteers after one season as a backup running back. He transferred to Kansas State, but left the team his first season and later that spring, entered the NFL Draft. Though he was undrafted, he made the Philadelphia Eagles as a free agent.
Follow Jim Halley on Twitter @jimhalley.