Bronco Mendenhall believes Andrew Brown has all the tools necessary to play at the next level. Now, it’s just a matter of learning best how to use those tools.
A five-star prospect coming out of Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, the big defensive end was selected Gatorade National football player of the year. He was suddenly on a path to greatness.
That path suddenly was filled with land mines, a nagging turf toe injury and dealings with a brusque defensive coordinator, whom Brown felt had it out for him. For the first two years of his career at Virginia, Cavalier fans were wondering if Brown had been overrated or might become a bust.
The pressure was difficult on him, attempting to live up to expectations while handling myriad situations. As a freshman and sophomore, he started only one game and had a combined 10 tackles in 16 appearances, and one lone sack. Quite a contrast from his senior year at Oscar Smith when he was a disruptive force with 30 tackles for loss, 18 sacks, and a mindboggling nine forced fumbles.
After the coaching change following the 2013 season, Brown felt like he could breathe again. He felt his opportunities had been snuffed out by former defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta, and he couldn’t understand why.
Tenuta told The Roanoke Times last year that he did not dislike Brown, and that “I wasn’t the problem there. There’s a lot of things I could say, but I’m still under contract.”
Brown’s father, also Andrew, said that was part of the issue but also didn’t feel like his son had the strength and stamina necessary to play at the collegiate level.
Nevertheless, the younger Brown found himself under a more encouraging defensive line coach in Ruffin McNeil, who has since departed for Oklahoma, and replaced by former grad assistant Vic So’oto.
As a result, Brown started 10 games, posted a team-leading 13 tackles for loss, and was second on the team with six sacks. Last season saved his career, turned things around.
“Definitely, because I made a lot of plays,” Brown said. “That’s what I needed to do, I needed to make a lot of plays to get that film for NFL scouts to look at me.”
Brown always believed he had the ability, but due to aforementioned circumstances felt he was limited.
“I’m getting opportunities down to show what I can do, and I’m doing it,” he…