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May 1, 2012

Brown's exposure finally starts to grow

MORE: Rivals/VTO page | Recruiting news | Skill positions
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WINTER GARDEN, Fla. - To say that Keyon Brown comes from a small town is a big understatement.

Bowling Green, Fla., located 77 miles southwest of Orlando, is in the northern part of rural Hardee County and has all of approximately 3,000 residents.

"There is one stoplight in town," Brown said.

Thanks to Brown, college coaches may find a reason to seek out that stoplight and drop by his remote school in the very near future. A sophomore defensive end at Hardee County High, he earned defensive line MVP honors in the Rivals.com/VTO Sports Elite 100 at West Orange High on Sunday.

In fact, Brown, who is without an offer, outperformed many of the 50-plus prospects on hand that have them.

"He used his hands well and is quick off the ball," said defensive end Joey Ivie of Dade City (Fla.) Pasco, one of the most heavily recruited players at the event and someone who got a bird's eye look at Brown throughout the afternoon.

Brown was at his best during the one-on-one portion of the event, when the 6-foot-2, 228-pounder was unblockable thanks to his combination of speed, explosiveness and sharp redirects.

"That man is violent," said former NFL player Omari Jordan, who coached the defensive linemen Sunday.

When told Brown was without an offer, Jordan replied, "You're kidding me."

A two-year starter at defensive end, Brown, who claims to have solid grades, recorded a half-dozen sacks in 2011. He hasn't drawn much attention yet from colleges. Brown said Florida, USF and Oregon have written, but he isn't sure how much interest they have at this time.

"There's a rumor Florida may come by this spring for practice," Brown said.

Spring will be important in Brown's development as a player.

"The coaches are thinking about putting me at linebacker," he said. "I haven't played linebacker at all. I think that's what Florida is looking at me at. Defensive end is fun, but I think I can go over to linebacker and be successful there, too. I feel like my future is more toward outside linebacker."

Brown is confident his skills will translate well to the new position.

"My greatest assets are my strength and speed," he said.

To put himself on the recruiting map of colleges, Brown has competed in a few camps and combines this year. But he said Sunday's performance easily was his best to date.

"I got a lot better here," he said. " Today, I'm proud of myself. It's the best I've done by quite a bit. I'd have to say the difference was the usage of my hands, and stuff like that. That's what I've been working on."

Brown thinks that living in Hardee County probably hurts when it comes to gaining publicity from media and attention from colleges, but he is hopeful his play will point college coaches in the direction of his town's lone stoplight.

"I think I could get better exposure at another school," Brown said. "But I'm fine where I'm at. I just need to keep working."

Keith Niebuhr can be reached at Keithrivals@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter @KeithRIVALS.

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