Derrick Brown is one of the nation’s top high school football prospects. The U.S. Army All-American stands 6-foot-4, nearly 320 pounds and bulldozes offensive linemen like, well, a bulldozer. T
he Lanier High star from Buford, Ga., has remained coy about his college future throughout much of the recruiting process, and is only now setting up official visits and beginning to open up about what he’s looking for. Brown is ranked as the No. 1 player in Georgia, the No. 3 defensive tackle and No. 8 player overall in the 247Sports Composite rankings.
He provided more insight into his future and what it’s like to be a finalist for the U.S. Army Player of the Year award in an interview Tuesday with USA TODAY High School Sports.
Q: What has your experience been like in New York so far?
A: “This has been pretty fun. New York is very nice. We got to walk through the city yesterday, try new foods. We went to some pizza place that had pizza that was bigger than I’ve ever seen.”
Q: Why do you think you should win the Player of the Year award over the other finalists with you in New York?
A: “I feel that I’m a great person and my play speaks for itself.”
Q: Where is your thinking relative to recruiting and your future right now?
A: “I’m still planning to take my five officials. I’m going to Alabama, Auburn, Athens (Georgia), Mississippi State and Tennessee.”
Q: As a Georgia native, does the change at head coach there affect the way you view the program?
A: “My connection to Georgia was (defensive line and linebackers) coach (Tracy) Rocker. If he stays, that will stay one of my top schools. If he leaves, then it depends who they bring in, but it’s probably too late to build a relationship with a coach I don’t know.”
Q: Does it make Georgia more attractive at all now that they have a head coach who has long been considered a star defensive coordinator?
A: “Coach (Kirby) Smart doesn’t really affect the way I view the school that much.”
Q: What is it like to play the gauntlet of the Georgia high school football season knowing that every offensive line is gearing up to stop you?
A: “You know that you’re playing against teams that are always focused on your presence. Sometimes it just comes to me and I get a chance to showcase my talent. You also know you have to dominate because everyone is always out to get you.”
Q: What was the most memorable or rewarding matchup you had this year?
A: “The most rewarding matchup we had was the Flower Branch game. We had a lot of injured players, and we pitched a shutout, won 3-0. I had to play with a sprained ankle, but three of my teammates got hurt. Watching them go down in a game like that and still winning, that was memorable.”
Q: What are you most looking forward to about the U.S. Army All-American Bowl experience?
A: “I just want to work when we get to San Antonio. It’s a chance for me to showcase my talents and show how I work. And it gives you the chance to go up against the best.”
Q: What else do you think people should know about Derrick Brown? What might they be surprised to learn?
A: “I’m just a normal human being. I’m not just five-star Derrick Brown all the time. I’m at home for the holidays like everyone else.”