As we continue our march to kickoff, we take a look at the top 100 recruits to sign with Auburn of all-time*. The rankings are based on 247’s composite recruit rankings, which unfortunately only date back to 2000.
“Brown has the frame of a true defensive tackle, but he is athletic enough to play some strongside end on the next level too. Quick off the ball and gets consistent penetration. Has improved pad level, but can still play with better leverage in the trenches. Stopping the run is an area he’s become better at as a junior, but he is best at shooting the gaps, chasing the ball, and getting after the quarterback.” - 247 Sports
Derrick Brown was a beast of a man, even at 18. His recruiting page lists him as 6’3” and 317 lbs, which is just ridiculous to think that other 14-18 years should have to try and go toe-to-toe with him. In his junior and senior years at Lanier HS, a AAAAAA school in metro Atlanta, Brown averaged 8.6 tackles and 1.2 sacks per game, and in his senior year he threw in a rushing and receiving touchdown for good measure.
It’s not quite the same film as Mon Adams from earlier this week, where Mon looked like an adult playing against 10 year olds. Instead, Brown’s film just shows a black hole playing defensive tackle. Anything and anyone that gets near the line of scrimmage just disappears, as do quarterbacks who he towers over when he gets home on the pass rush.
Adams would go on to be a top 10 player nationally in the 2016 class, and the top player in the state of Georgia. Naturally, it was expected that he’d be a Bulldog - either with UGA or Mississippi State. Being an instate kid, especially in Gwinnett County, UGA usually gets first right of refusal. And Brown’s parents were both State alums. But Brown decided to spurn both Kirby and Mullen and chose the Tigers on National Signing Day, instead signing with your Auburn Tigers.
The man just made the biggest decision of his life up to that point and you can see on his face he’s just thinking about eating quarterbacks. That’s my kind of defensive tackle.
Derrick Brown was always going to see the field day one. The Tigers had two NFL talents in Adams and Dontavius Russell in 2016, but Brown showed the coaches he was ready to be a part of the rotation out of fall camp. He recovered a fumble against Clemson in week 1 and played in every game thereafter. He was also a star off the field, earning a nomination to the SEC Student-Athlete Leadership Council.
Brown broke out in a big way as a sophomore, replacing Adams on the line. Brown’s sophomore tape looks like his high school one, where running backs just disappear when the get near the line. Along with sack artist Jeff Holland, a steady Russell, and a second year starter in Marlon Davidson, the Auburn defensive line began to earn the national reputation it has today of being one of the best units in football. Brown had several big plays late in the season, including a forced fumble of Jalen Hurts in the first quarter of the Iron Bowl, and a blocked field goal against UCF in the Peach Bowl. My favorite #5 highlight from 2017, though, is this tackle against UCF.
If Brown had become one of the best lineman in the SEC in 2017, he made a national name for himself in 2018. The junior was a forced to be reckoned with. Adding an improved pass rush to his already phenomenal run stopping abilities, Brown improved from 3 sacks in 2017 to 4.5 in 2018, including this HUGE sack with two minutes left in the Texas A&M game. The sack and forced fumble (which A&M recovered) helped force the Aggies to punt the ball back to Auburn, and set up the game winning drive capped off by a Stidham/Williams touchdown.
That poor center never stood a chance against NO ALTERNATIVE Brown. Neither did Southern Miss QB Jack Abraham, who not only had to withstand getting sacked by Derrick Brown, but had to survive Derrick Brown superman diving over the running back at him.
Big men shouldn’t be able to fly like that.
Brown, along with his roommate and fellow NFL prospect Marlon Davidson, decided to come back to lead this defense in 2019. While Kevin Steele will be breaking in new linebackers, he won’t have to worry about a star-studded defensive line that has been called the best in the country going into this offseason.
Brown will also get to play this season with his younger brother, Kameron Brown. The younger Brown, a linebacker, also signed with Auburn this past offseason. I’m sure it’s not the reason Derrick came back, but it will be special for the entire Brown family if Derrick and Kameron get to see the field together for a few snaps at some point this year.
We’re less than 48 hours until we get to see what the former 5* has in store for us, and I can’t wait to see it.