Leader Blues

Friday, March 27, 2009

SPORTS >> Character study

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Success builds character and character often leads to success. No one understands that dynamic better than Jacksonville senior Terrell Brown.

His coaches, as well as Boys and Girls Club supervisor Terry Brown, will attest to his character. The success speaks for itself.

Brown earned both all-conference and all-state honors in football this past season, as well as making all-conference his junior season in baseball. He was named to both the Leader newspaper’s all-defensive and all-offensive teams.

And he just signed to play baseball with Coffeyville Community College in Kansas.
Brown has been just as successful off the field.

The 17-year-old played basketball at the Boys and Girls Club as a kid, and now works at the facility just off Graham Road. His duties include everything from trash detail to basketball officiating, but Terry Brown said his biggest contribution is his positive influence on the kids.

“They seem to look up to him a lot. The younger ones just think he’s so cool,” said Terry Brown. “He’s very patient and playful with them. He has been a really big asset to us. Without saying a lot, he’s a good role model, because kids can see what happens when you stay in school, do your homework and work at your sport.”

Terrell Brown had opportunities to play at the next level in both football and baseball. He chose to go with baseball, a sport he has played since the age of four. He received interest for his baseball from five other area schools before choosing Coffeyville. He also got interest from several football programs, including Harding University, Mississippi Valley State, Arkansas Tech and Arkansas State.

With all the opportunities presented to him, Brown said the decision to become a Red Raven was an easy one.

“It felt like home,” Brown said of Coffeyville. “The coaches called me every day and texted. When I went on my visit, the players on the team made me feel like a brother. So when I go off to college, it will be like going to be with my second family.”

He gives much of the credit for his success to his parents, Harold and Evelyn Brown, and said his grandfather Lawrence, who also played baseball, was a big influence on him in his developmental years.

“My mom and dad always kept a glove and a bat in my room from the time I was really young,” he said. “They have always inspired me. And my grandfather also played baseball. I’ve always looked up to him. He taught me how to play with pride.”

Brown almost exclusively plays shortstop for the Red Devils and for the Gwatney Chevrolet American Legion summer baseball team.

Football was a different story. Brown was an all-purpose player for Jacksonville head coach Mark Whatley, shifting from wideout to secondary to, occasionally, quarterback.

“He played anywhere you put him and always gave the same effort,” said Whatley. “He led by being committed to what he was doing and giving his all no matter where we stuck him on the field.”

Whatley said that, despite Brown’s speed and ability, it was more than raw talent that made Brown such a big asset.

“He’s a very intelligent young man,” Whatley said. “Usually the intelligent kids are the ones who are going to come up with those big plays for you. We’re certainly going to miss him. He did some great things, and always came up with a big play when we needed it.”

Whatley cited the Searcy game, when Brown scored two offensive touchdowns and two defensive touchdowns.

Brown finished with 26 receptions for 405 yards and six touchdowns. On defense, he had 31 tackles and four interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns.

He received player-of-the-week honors from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Fox 16 sports.

His senior year of baseball is going just as well. Through the first half of the season, Brown is hitting .484, and has an on-base percentage of .660. He has four doubles and two home runs. He also leads the team in walks, hit-by-pitches, stolen bases and runs scored. The only offensive stat that Brown does not top is the RBI category.

“He’s got a lot going for him,” said Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows. “He has good character and a great personality. He’s just a good kid, that’s simply the best way to put it.”

Brown’s competitive nature and enthusiasm were the biggest factors in Burrows’ decision to make him the Red Devils’ leadoff hitter this spring.

“We expect him to get up there and spark us,” said Burrows. “He’s drawn a lot of walks from his leadoff spot. He would probably like to swing the bat a little more, but he does a good job of getting on and letting his teammates drive him in.”

Brown’s desire to stay in the world of athletics — and watching longtime Jacksonville trainer Jason Cates in action over the years — has given him the idea to pursue sports medicine.

“It’s a way for me to keep being around sports,” said Brown. “I may even get to come back to Jacksonville and be a trainer one day. The main thing is that it’s about helping people, and being a better person.”