Starkville (Miss.) senior wide receiver A.J. Brown is looking forward to the Under Armour All-America Game if for no other reason than because the four-star recruit will finally get some single coverage.
“It kind of gets old going against three guys almost every game,” Brown told USA TODAY High School Sports, “but when I get to Under Armour, it’s going to be 1-on-1, so it’s going to be a lot more fun.”
Brown may be more equipped for Under Armour success this January than anyone else in Orlando, Fla., since he joins last year’s American Family Insurance ALL-USA Offensive Player of the Year Kyler Murray as the only two players ever selected to both Under Armour’s baseball and football All-America games. During his National team’s 11-5 win at the baseball game in Chicago’s Wrigley Field this past summer, Brown finished 1-for-3 with a run scored, and he expects the football competition to be less difficult.
“The talent is a whole ‘nother level than regular high school competition,” he said. “It’s a great experience, and you’re meeting a lot of new people. Football is a little easier, because you’re not just swinging at 90 mile-per-hour fastballs every time. I can do this [football] a little more easily.”
He sure can. Despite those triple coverages, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Brown already has 52 catches this season for 791 yards and seven scores for Starkville (7-1). He seems poised for a second straight 1,000-yard campaign, especially if his Yellow Jackets can top a 2014 Class 6A state semifinal run.
While he’s being pursued both in state (by Mississippi State and Ole Miss) and out of state (by Alabama, Auburn and California, among others), Brown is putting his college decision aside for a minute, so he can focus on winning a championship. Or, possibly, championships.
Brown also helped lead Starkville’s baseball team to a 2014 Class 6A state tournament appearance as a center fielder during his junior year, and he’s still deciding whether he’ll pursue both sports at the college level.
“I stay focused on whichever one I’m playing,” he said. “As soon as baseball’s over, I’m playing football; as soon as football’s over, I’m playing baseball. I do want to play both, but I just don’t know. Schools do talk to me about it, which is great, because I may decide to play both.”
Interestingly, Brown was so focused on football after finishing his baseball season this past spring that in order to avoid distraction he didn’t pick up the phone when Under Armour first came calling.
“To be honest, my dad kept telling me they were calling about the baseball game, and I didn’t think nothing of it, but as soon as they said I’d only be the second one selected for both, I immediately said, ‘Book it,'” said Brown, who’s never met Murray. “I was too excited to play both.”
While he may split his focus between the two sports, there is one parallel he can draw between them.
“In baseball, I play center field, so I’m judging the ball,” said Brown. “In football, on a deep pass, you judge it and go get it, just like a center fielder.”
Except with three defenders hanging all over him.