Ever since he took over the Virginia football program, head coach Mike London has strived to attract the top talent in the state to Charlottesville in an effort to rebuild the team.
He worked to build relationships with the younger talent that would eventually rank among the top prospects in Virginia. Chief among the heralded youngsters was Andrew Brown, a five-star defensive tackle from Chesapeake. London developed a strong bond with Brown and worked to sell his vision of the program to the promising young defensive lineman. The hard work that London put in on the recruiting trail paid off as Brown announced on Saturday afternoon that he will play his college football in Charlottesville.
“I picked the Cavaliers because my heart already told me that I first when up there that I could trust Coach London,” Brown said shortly after announcing his commitment on a live webcast carried by ESPN.com at a family cookout in his home in Chesapeake. Among those in attendance at the cookout celebration were rising first-year Cavalier tailback Taquan “Smoke” Mizzell and Virginia commitments Quin Blanding and Corwin Cutler.
Brown stressed that his relationship with London and the family atmosphere at Virginia were major factors in choosing the Cavaliers.
“It’s home. It’s Virginia,” Brown said. “I feel like it’s a family thing at UVa. I feel like at UVa that they are going to remember my name and treat me as one of their own sons and push me harder and harder to push me to the next level.”
Brown selected the Cavaliers over Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida State and Alabama.
“It’s been crazy,” Brown said of the recruiting process. “It’s been late night calls and seven-hour, nine-hour trips, but it was well worth it. I am blessed and not a lot of people get this opportunity.”
In the fall of 2012, Brown transferred from Indian River High School to state powerhouse Oscar Smith. Brown made his Tiger debut on national television in a 42-21 loss to Byrnes (S.C.). The junior finished the season with 83 tackles and 11 sacks.
Brown is a consensus five-star recruit, ranking among the top-five players for the class of 2014. The Chesapeake native is being recruited as a defensive tackle, with the possibility of shifting over to defensive end on certain packages.
Today, Brown will board a plane bound for the West Coast for the third annual “Nike Opening” in Beaverton, Ore. Brown will compete against the nation’s elite in a four-day talent showcase featuring blue chip prospects from all over the country.
While in Oregon, Brown will make the transition from “recruit” to “recruiter” as the Virginia-bound defensive tackle hopes to attract more top talent to Charlottesville.
“I’m going to recruit everybody,” Brown said with a smile. “I’m going to recruit, [top prospects] Kentavious Street, Lorenzo Carter, and I’m going to get [top-ranked player] Da'Shawn Hand.”
Brown is the second five-star recruit to commit to the Cavaliers for the class of 2014, joining Blanding, a Bayside High School safety. With Blanding and Brown in the fold already, Virginia has commitments from the nation's top ranked defensive tackle and safety.
In addition to the two tidewater area standouts, Virginia also has received verbal commitments from four-star offensive lineman Steven Moss and the nation’s top-ranked kicker, Gary Wunderlich. With 31 weeks until signing day, Brown feels that Virginia will close out with other top prospects in the region who share his and London’s goal of taking Virginia football to the next level.
“Early in the 90s, UVa was No. 1 in the country because all of their players came from Virginia,” Brown said. “If I could keep all the players from Virginia in Virginia as well as get other players from other states into Virginia, it’s going to be crazy; it’s the come-up.”