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June 19, 2012
The Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge is less than a week away, with 100 of the top prospects in the country headed to Atlanta to compete against one another. Most of the players in attendance will be in the class of 2013, but a select few class of 2014 prospects have been invited as well.
One of those lucky few is Beaumont (Texas) Ozen safety Tony Brown.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior-to-be first made a name for himself at an LSU camp last summer, and since then, Brown has been dominant on the camp scene. However, he has never competed in an event with the type of talent level he will face at the Five-Star Challenge.
"I was overjoyed," Brown said of being selected to participate in the event. "I was really honored. I've been working hard for something like this to happen to me. I got the call inviting me and I just couldn't believe it.
"I've talked to (fellow 2014 defensive back) Laurence Jones about it. I know him well from a bunch of camps. He said it was going to be a lot of fun. He said there's going to be some really good competition up there."
There has been a lot of talk that the state of Texas is absolutely loaded at the defensive back position in the class of 2014 and for very good reason. In addition to Brown, the likes of Edward Paris, Nick Harvey, Cedric Collins, Nick Watkins, Chris Hardeman, T'Kevian Rockwell, Jamal Adams, Darrion Johnson, Dylan Gardner and Brandon Simmons all already have impressive offer lists and all have the potential to be four- or five-star prospects.
Brown feels a bit overshadowed by some of the others in that group and he is playing with a chip on his shoulder. He sees his time in Atlanta as the perfect opportunity to make a name for himself on the national level.
"I've heard people talk about all the DBs in Texas next year," he said. "They talk about how great the class is and how many top guys there are.
"I think this gives me a chance to show I'm the best. I'm going to get to go against the top receivers in the whole country and most of them are a year older than me."
Brown is not shy about the fact he has outperformed some of the others in that group in head-to-head settings. He is also not shying away from going against the best of the best in Atlanta.
"I've been the best at all the camps I've been to so far," Brown said. "I feel like this will be the premier event for me to showcase my abilities and have everybody see me in action. I'm going to look who the best receivers are and then make it a point to go up against them in one-on-ones."
When the weekend comes to a close, Brown does not want to be thought of as just one of the top defensive backs in his home state next year. He wants to be considered the prospect at the very top of the list.
"I know there are a lot of other really good DBs in the state like Edward (Paris) and Cedric (Collins) and Nick (Watkins), but I honestly think I'm the top one," Brown said. "I've seen some lists out there that have them ranked but not me and I want to show that I am the top guy. It's no disrespect to them at all because they're really good, but I truly believe I'm the best and this is the perfect time for me to prove it."
Mike Farrell's take
Tony Brown loves to compete and this is a kid who not only loves to hit and make people pay for coming into his territory, but he also has very good ball skills. While he won't get to lay anyone out in a touch 7-on-7 tournament, he will have a chance to be a ball hawk and use his rare size for a sophomore to compete for some jump balls with older receivers. He is a prospect who wants to challenge himself at the highest level and learns from his mistakes so he will get better as he gets acclimated to the talent level.