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August 4, 2011MORE NIEBUHR: Reed | McKenzie | Borne | SE Mail
A few of the college coaches interested in Richie Brown, an inside linebacker from Long Beach, Miss., have told him they have doubts about the legitimacy of his highlight footage.
"They don't believe I could run that fast," Brown said. "Three different schools thought the game film was sped up. In reality, nobody has touched the film."
Fortunately for the 6-foot-2, 223-pound Brown, the No. 8 player in Mississippi, plenty of other schools are convinced his speed is for real. Particularly the ones at which he has camped this year.
All three have offered scholarships, along with many more.
"If I'm on a track, I can run under 4.4," said Brown, who helped lead his school's 4x100- and 4x200-meter relay teams to top-five finishes in the state meet this year. "I've run a 4.33 in track shoes."
So, why the doubters?
Brown, who is white, thinks it probably has something to do with the color of his skin.
"People are surprised I'm that fast; they really don't believe it until they see it," said Brown, chuckling. "I get all kinds of comments from some of the black players. Those guys are my friends and I love them. They'll say, 'You're the wrong color' and stuff like that. It's pretty funny."
Brown's speed isn't the only reason he's a major recruit. But it might be the biggest.
"He's a 4.4 guy and he moves pretty good," said linebacker Lelland Ducksworth of Hattiesburg (Miss.) North Forest, who camped with Brown at Mississippi State. "I think most of his speed comes when he's downhill running and in coverage. When he comes to cover, he might get beat, but his speed covers up for it because he tracks them down pretty fast."
Getting beat is something that apparently doesn't happen much to Brown at the high school level. A starter since the final week of his freshman season, he recorded a combined 313 tackles the past two years.
"He swarms the field," said Long Beach quarterback Thad Miller. "That's his strength. You can't slip his tackle. You can't dodge him because he's so good."
How athletic is Brown?
Once, when his team needed him at defensive end for a game, Brown stepped in and recorded 14 tackles with "three or four sacks," he said. At LSU recently, he recorded a 38-inch vertical and a 4.1-second shuttle. And in addition to being the highest-rated linebacker in Mississippi, he also plays fullback and slot receiver, two positions that require an entirely different skill set from one another.
"I've seen him block a lot of people, and I've seen him break an 82-yard run," Miller said. "In 7-on-7 over the summer, he'd make catches with four guys around him."
To date, Brown holds 10 offers. At this stage of his recruitment, he claims to have no favorites. But, Brown said, LSU, Mississippi State (the first school to offer him), Ole Miss, Purdue and Southern Miss are recruiting him the hardest.
According to Brown, he has seen an uptick in respect from others since receiving the LSU offer, which came after he attended camp last month in Baton Rouge.
"They had some other linebackers come in that didn't get an offer," Brown said. "I think when they offered me, people were like, 'This guy's for real if the LSU staff thought he was worthy of the fourth linebacker spot.' "
And, obviously, LSU believes his speed is indeed legit.