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Derrick Brown Making Impact On and Off The Field

December 31, 2019

Derrick Brown Making Impact On and Off TheField

By Joey Johnston

Auburn University defensive tackleDerrick Brown is an unusual man.

It goes way beyond the size/speedcombination - a 6-foot-5, 318-pounder with quick feet - that makes him perhapsthe nation's most disruptive force.

"I get a headache just thinking abouthim,'' said Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck, whose Golden Gophers (10-2) face theTigers (9-3) in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium.

It's more than his playmakingability, which garnered Brown some Heisman Trophy votes, even in aquarterback-heavy season.

"In practice every day, he doessomething that doesn't make sense,'' Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said.

It's beyond his decision to returnfor his senior season at Auburn to receive his marketing degree, even after hewas deemed a clear first-round NFL draft pick and he had a son to support.

It's about his humanity.

Brown was a finalist for sevennational awards, but he captured one with special meaning.

He won the Lott IMPACT Trophy, givento the nation's top defensive player who excels on the field and displayscharacter in other areas.

Brown's on-field statistics areimpressive - 50 tackles (including 12.5 for a loss) and four sacks - for aninterior lineman. But the award is an acronym for integrity, maturity,performance, academics, community and tenacity.

That's where Brown makes a trueimpact.

"I don't think football will everdefine Derrick Brown,'' Auburn defensive line coach Rodney Garner told theMontgomery (Ala.) Advertiser. "He's a young man that I think is destined forsuccess long after his days on the grass are over. He's a guy who has so muchpotential. I think he can tap into a lot of different arenas.

"The thing that's so unique aboutDerrick is he has the ability to make others feel valued. I'm not talking aboutthe superstars or the starters. It's just like when you go in the dining hall,he's sitting over there with the walk-ons. Guys who you would never think,those are his best friends. He just has a way of meandering his way through andtouching people in a positive way.''

As a child, Brown's parents insistedhe become involved in the community. He did several initiatives at his schooland church. Coming of age, Brown has done mission work in the DominicanRepublic. He has worked with Toys for Tots, Halloween Trunk or Treat, AngelTrees, the Beat Bama food drive and other charitable organizations.

He's on the SEC Leadership Council,which provides him the chance to meet with campus leaders and SEC conferenceoffice staff.

He also served as president onAuburn's Student-Athlete Advisory Council.

"I'm trying to be the first one tochange the culture,'' Brown said. "For so long, a lot of these things didn'tinvolve football. I want the young guys to see it's possible to do both. Youdon't have to be quiet. You don't have to hold back your voice.''

On the field, Brown never held back,either.

"He had a huge impact on just aboutevery game in my opinion,'' Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "We have tremendousrespect for him. He has great initial quickness. He plays with a lot of power.He's as good a player as we've played against for a while around here as aninside player.''

"Derrick played his best football inthe biggest games - and he dominated,'' Malzahn said.

For Brown, that kind of play wasn'tunusual. It was expected. It's why he'll be remembered as an Auburn legend. Andit's why Fleck can't shake that headache.