When it comes time for end-of-season football awards, linemen are often overshadowed by more glamorous skill-position standouts. Defensive tackle Andrew Brown bucked that trend Wednesday when he was named the 2013 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year.
The 5-star prospect is the 29th recipient of the award, which has been presented to a quarterback or running back 26 times. Brown joins offensive lineman Jeff Byers (2004) and linebacker Curtis Bray (1988) as the only exceptions.
The dominant 6'4", 282-pound defender leads undefeated Oscar Smith High School (Chesapeake, Va.) into the Division VI state title game this Saturday. He committed to Virginia in June.
Brown is a battering ram in the trenches. He has 18 sacks, 28 tackles for loss and eight forced fumbles through 14 games this season, according to Gatorade.
Longtime recruiting guru Tom Lemming told Yahoo! that Brown ranks among the best collegiate prospects he has covered.
"I saw [Pro Football Hall of Famer] Reggie White play at Howard High in Tennessee back in 1979, and Brown is the closest thing I've seen to him in 35 years in the business," Lemming said. "He's got the build, tenacity, aggressiveness and quickness to be a guy we talk about for a long time."
His skills garnered scholarship offers from every corner of the country. Florida State, Alabama, Miami, Michigan, USC and Auburn are just a few of the programs that pursued Brown.
He is rated the nation's No. 6 overall player and top defensive tackle by 247Sports composite rankings. Brown is expected to compete in the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game.
He found out about Player of the Year honors Wednesday morning. He was surprised by former Virginia Cavaliers standout Tiki Barber, who went on to play professionally for the New York Giants.
Brown joins elite company as a recipient of the award. Past winners include Peyton Manning, Joe Mauer and Emmitt Smith.
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