Beaumont Ozen DB Tony Brown is not only one of the most talented players in the state of Texas, he's also one of the most competitive and one of the most confident.
Brown has had an extremely busy camp schedule this summer, attending events all over the Southwest region. In the last few weeks, he's made his way to two camps that featured top talent from across the nation. Brown was one of a handful of 2014 prospects invited to participate in the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in Atlanta. He followed that appearance up with a showing at the Rivals.com Underclassmen Challenge last weekend. The blue-chip defender excelled at both.
While a lot of high-caliber players avoid camps because they're fearful that their stock could drop with a bad performance, Brown knows that the only way to maximize his talent is to compete against the nation's elite.
"I strive on competition. You can't get better unless you're competing against guys at the same level or above yours," Brown said. "If you don't go out there and see who is better than you, how are you going to get better just working by yourself all the time? I've gone up against people who are supposed to be the best and I just try to prove I'm the best every time."
At the beginning of summer, Brown was ranked among the best defensive back prospects in the state of Texas. He set a goal to not only be the top DB in the Lone Star State, but to be the top player at his position in the entire nation in the 2014 class. It's a steep hill to climb, but Brown's work at a number of camps has moved him up the recruiting lists.
"I came out here this summer to prove I could guard man because they had moved me to safety and recruiters and everyone thought I couldn't play man-to-man. So that's all I've been working on in practice. I came out here and I proved it and I feel like that was the only factor that was holding me back from being the No. 1 DB," Brown said. "I've proved that I'll compete at any camp, I've got top performer at every camp I've gone to and I've competed against the best of the best."
Brown turned heads at the Rivals Challenge before the competition ever began. A chiseled 6-1 and 185 pounds, he was one of the more impressive looking players at the event from a purely physical perspective. His play backed up his physical appearance.
"It was great," Brown said of the experience. "I saw five-star guys and I know what I have to shoot for to become a five-star. That's my goal. I saw the number one corner, the number one DB, so I know what I have to shoot for. I was in the front of every drill, I was leading everything and I got awarded as a top performer. I know if I can get top performer against guys a year older than me I feel like I can be one of the best in my class."
In watching Brown this summer, one thing that really stands out is his competiveness. Even at the Rivals Challenge, when matched up with players a year older than him, Brown was usually found at the front of the line to take reps in drill work. He always wants to be matched up with the top receivers in 1-on-1 drills. Call it confidence. Call it a chip on his shoulder. Call it what you want, but Brown is determined to be the best of the best and he uses history as a motivator.
"My freshman year, I really had zero offers. Then my sophomore year, I had one offer from LSU. When that first ranking came out, I wasn't in the top-10. It's just that drive to prove I'm the best every day," Brown said. "When I work out, I think about that - how I felt when I first read that I wasn't the number one guy. I felt like I had worked for it and that I had been cheated. So I come out every day and remember how I felt and I never want to feel that again."
Success has helped build confidence, but Brown said a big part of it has also been passed down from his family.
"I think confidence comes from how hard you work. If you know you're working harder than the other guy, then you know he can't beat you. I think it also comes from genetics. My dad and my uncle, my mom's twin brother, they were always corners and when you talk to them, you can tell they were confident guys. My mom is confident. She won a Naismith award in high school for basketball, so I think it's just in my blood to be confident," Brown said.
On the recruiting front, new offers continue to pour in for Brown seemingly every day. This week, he added scholarships from Auburn, West Virginia and Ohio State. Though he continues to weigh all of his options, Brown, ranked No. 3 overall on the 2014 Lone Star Recruiting Top 100, said he could have a list of favorites in the not-too-distant future.
"I really am wide open. I know you don't want to hear it, but I really am wide open. I can probably give a list after the first couple football games," Brown said.
Texas and LSU are schools that have both made strong impressions. Brown admits he does have a healthy respect for both programs, and both are expect to be in the race until the end.
"I'm born and raised in Texas. Texas is always going to be in the top 10, probably even the top 5 for sure. (DB) Coach (Duane) Akina is a great coach, he's produced great DBs. I have the utmost respect for him and coach (Mack) Brown. They're definitely going to be in the top group.
"It's the love with LSU. That was my first offer. They believed in me at a young age. They'll have to be in my top five just off of trust. They trust me so much."