Dwyer's Malik Brown picks Tennessee over Syracuse
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
by Jeff Greer
Malik Brown made a spreadsheet. He assigned values to each characteristic he wanted in a college. He compared Syracuse, Tennessee and South Florida using those values, and Tennessee won.
Yet Brown, a calm, collected senior at Dwyer High, still went to bed Tuesday night undecided and unsettled. On Wednesday morning, hours before his school's national signing day ceremony, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive end sprinted into coach Jack Daniels' office and made a beeline for the bathroom.
"He had a really tough time with it," Daniels said, laughing.
Even after Brown grabbed the light orange Tennessee hat off the table in front of him and announced he'd sign with the Volunteers, he struggled with the choice. The hearty cheers from family and friends in a crowded Dwyer media center did nothing to dispel Brown's still-lingering emotion, which came through as he spoke to media.
Syracuse, a Nike-sponsored program that originally secured Brown's verbal pledge back in December, held a special spot in his heart. Brown loves Nike and its products.
Plus, the Orange vigorously recruited Brown, who visited Syracuse's campus on Dec. 7. But whatever advantage Syracuse had disappeared when Brown called former coach Doug Marrone on Jan 4, and Marrone denied he'd leave Syracuse for the Buffalo Bills' head coaching job.
Two days later, the Bills announced Marrone as their new coach, and he brought two of Brown's chief Syracuse recruiters with him to Buffalo.
"I entered a contract with Coach Marrone and Syracuse," Brown told the crowd. "As you all know, when a contract changes, it becomes void."
New Tennessee coach Butch Jones, sensing an opportunity when Marrone left for the NFL, made a concerted effort with a group of assistants to coax Brown to the SEC school.
Brown made an official visit to Tennessee this past weekend, the final open date before national signing day for recruits to visit a college campus.
Ex-Dwyer star Curt Maggitt, now a linebacker at Tennessee, was Brown's host. He didn't like Tennessee's apparel partnership with Adidas, but everything else awed Brown, who returned home uncertain.
The Volunteers scored very well on Brown's spreadsheet. When he called his parents around 10:30 Wednesday morning, just minutes after leaving Palm Beach Gardens High's signing ceremony, an emotional Brown told them his decision.
An hour later, Brown told a surprised Daniels. Then Brown called Syracuse, Tennessee and USF. His teammates whispered about how nervous their friend was as a crowd gathered for Dwyer's ceremony.
Brown frenetically shook his leg as he sat next to Dwyer's 11 other signing seniors. His parents maintained eye contact with their son and coached his breathing.
Then, after all the signings, a few short speeches and an awkward pause to allow media members to set up their cameras, Brown began his short announcement.
"It was a business decision," Brown said after the ceremony. "Tennessee had everything I wanted."