SUGAR HILL — It’s the proverbial 2,000-pound elephant in the room. Or more accurately, it’s the 325-pound Tiger in the room.
The formidable shadow that Lanier grad and Auburn defensive lineman Derrick Brown casts is one that can swallow up a lot of people, particularly when you’re as close to him as his younger brother Kameron.
However, the 6-foot, 230-pound linebacker has cast quite the large shadow of his own throughout his career at Lanier, and no more so than his senior season this fall.
And as the 2018 Daily Post Defensive Player of the Year’s career comes to an end, he has made his own name one to look up to in Longhorns history.
“He’s always been a kid who’s had a nose for the ball,” Lanier coach Korey Mobbs said of the younger Brown brother. “There’s no doubt he was a starter for us from his sophomore year all the way to his senior year and never missed a game. People might argue this, but I think he’s had just as much, if not more, impact on our program than his brother did. I’d say that with his brother in the room, and as well, I think his brother would agree with that.
“(Kameron) was a team captain, the heartbeat of what we do. An emotional leader. He’s a really talented young man, not just on the field, but off the field, too.”
He was definitely a leader on the field for not only the Longhorns, but all Gwinnett players, in many ways this fall, including leading all county tacklers with 187 combined tackles and assists, as well posting a team-best 24 tackles for loss and adding 14 quarterback hurries, six sacks, five pass break-ups, two fumble recoveries and a caused fumble.
And he did it from a far different position than he thought he’d play while growing up looking up to big brother Derrick. While hardly small, being less massive than his brother meant making adjustments to his plans, and his style of play.
“In the beginning, I was thinking, ‘OK, maybe I’ll come to high school and be like a D-end (like Derrick),” Kameron Brown said. “But then, my size was different. But ever since I was young, it’s been a journey. He’s pushed me a lot, and I’ve always pushed myself. He always said, ‘Be your own person.’ This year, I figured out that you’ve got to leave a legacy behind you.”
The younger Brown and his Lanier teammates have definitely left a legacy behind them that future Longhorns will remember for years to come after helping lead this year’s team to its first appearance in the semifinals of the state football playoffs.
But for Brown himself, his main legacy will be how aggressive he played and his incredible knack of being around the ball on nearly every play.
It is a phenomenon he said began years before he entered high school at Lanier, and it’s an ability that’s only grown over time.
And oddly enough, as much as he’s looked up to his brother and tried to emulate him over the years, it was another Derrick that proved to be his biggest influence.
“It developed over time,” Brown said. “I watched the ESPN (documentary film) on (NFL Hall of Famer) Derrick Thomas and how good he was and how committed he was to make a play. For me, it came from that, it came from being doubted a lot. … As soon as I came to high school, I wanted to make a point.”
While he’s definitely made his point, Brown may still have another point to make as he prepares to take his skills to the next level.
As good as he was on the high school level, the major college programs weren’t as eager to pursue Kameron Brown as they were in pursuing Derrick Brown a few years ago, perhaps because of his smaller size.
However, the younger Brown will take his game to the college ranks — he still has visits set up for after the holidays, and intends to choose among a list that includes Gardner-Webb, The Citadel, the University of Pikeville (Ky.), Chattanooga and Mercer during the later signing period in February.
And make no mistake, he intends to make a big impact no matter where he goes, which would not surprise Mobbs in the least.
“I know we get wrapped up in (recruiting-ranking) stars and measurables at the college level,” Mobbs said. “But whoever ends up with him is going to get an unbelievable player who’s going to be extremely productive. Kam’s just an incredible football player. Every now and then, you get a case like this where it’s frustrating as a coach. It’s not necessarily anybody’s fault. It’s just going to be a blessing wherever he ends up.”