Lanier (Buford, Ga.) defensive tackle Derrick Brown had originally planned to play in the Under Armour All-American Game before switching to the Army All-American Bowl.
Brown received his game jersey Friday as part of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Selection Tour presented by American Family Insurance. The Army game is Jan. 9 in San Antonio.
“A lot of the top players are going toward the Army game, and you can only get better by playing against the best players,” Brown told USA TODAY High School Sports. “Being able to play and have the whole country watch will be an amazing feeling.”
The connections to the Army game go deeper than that. Brown’s father, James, served in the Army and later the Army National Guard.
A Georgia boy through and through, Brown mentioned his excitement to team up with the other Georgia players and go against some of the best the West Coast has to offer.
“Having shorts and t-shirts on is child’s play,” Brown said, referencing satellite camps. “When you get the pads on, that’s when you know who’s who.”
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Ranked No. 1 in the state of Georgia, No. 4 at his position and No. 10 in the nation, Brown is undeniably one of the nation’s “who’s who.” However, Brown realized a long time ago that it doesn’t matter what other people say about you or your game.
“Rank me where you want to rank me, I’m just out here trying to play the game,” Brown said. “I used to let it get to my head, but then you realize it’s not about the stars. It’s about being able to compete.”
However, the 6-4, 322-pound All-American didn’t always have this mindset.
“Two years ago, when I was at the 5-star Challenge I went against Lester Cotton (currently playing for the University of Alabama), and he did me bad. I thought I was hot stuff, and he let me know I wasn’t.”
That day, along with the support he receives from his family continue to motivate Brown, who’s future college decisions are up in the air. He most recently said his five official visits would be Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Mississippi State and Tennessee, but those plans might have changed as he said he’s still deciding where to visit.
He said events like the Army Bowl will help him solidify his spot as one of the nation’s elite.
“I’ve got a special ability to do something, I’m gonna make the best out of it and hopefully be able to take care of my family one day,” said Brown.