With the recent commitment from underrated running back Desmond Johnson (Yazoo City, Miss.), it's clear that head coach Larry Fedora and the Southern Miss coaching staff has done a good job hitting the recruiting trail since their hiring in December. On Friday, the Golden Eagles finished off the good week by landing what could end up being one of the most talented recruit in Fedora's tenure at Southern Miss. -- ESPN's No. 7-rated wide receiver prospect DeAndre Brown (Ocean Springs, Miss.). Brown announced live on ESPNU that he would be taking his physically impressive receiving skills to Southern Miss after receiving offers from LSU and a host of top SEC schools.
We were impressed with the raw talent we saw from the 6-foot-6, 208-pound junior during spring evaluations, but felt his receiving skills would need major polishing to become an impact prospect as a senior. Those skills were refined and then some as Brown exploded during his senior campaign at Ocean Springs high school. After viewing just three game films upon the completion of his season, Brown launched into the top 25 of the ESPN 150 and subsequently rose to the No. 7 spot for wide receivers.
"DeAndre's physical stature stands out at 6-foot-6, 225-pounds and running a 4.5 (40-yard dash); but yes, he did improve as an overall receiver. He used the recruiting process and going to camps last year as motivation to get better," explained Ocean Springs head coach Todd Mangum on Friday.
The hard work greatly paid off for Brown. For a taller receiver, we noticed more sink and fluidity in and out of his breaks right away. He was able to beat corners with skill aside from just relying on his great height and superior physicality. After the catch might be the area where we noticed the biggest change from a production standpoint. His yards after catch (YAC) was not as straight-lined as in his junior year, he showed looser hips and improved movement skills to avoid defenders and actually far more burst in his initial separation. Breaking tackles with his superior size and strength was a big part of his game throughout high school, but we observed improved explosiveness and power through traffic last fall.
Brown has the physical makeup to create major mismatches in the college passing game, and could develop into the type of player Conference USA defensive coordinators have to game plan against at Southern Miss. While impressive, we actually still think he possesses great upside to get even better at the next level, and it sounds like he has the attitude to get there.
Said Mangum: "One of DeAndre's better attributes as a football player heading into college is his determination to just keep getting better and working hard to be the best; the physical ability is there."
Billy Tucker is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. and has close to a decade of coaching experience at the college and high school level. Tucker has served as a recruiting coordinator for two nationally ranked Division II colleges. Most recently, he was the associate head coach and defensive coordinator for Merrimack College, which advanced to the Sweet 16 in the 2006 NCAA Division II playoffs.