Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame’s Derek Brown Lead Fighting Irish To National Championship
By SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME // April 27, 2013
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
ABOVE VIDEO: Derek Brown was drafted by the New York Giants with the 14th pick of the 1992 NFL Draft and played with the Giants, Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals and the Jacksonville Jaguars during his professional career.
DEREK BROWN – 2013 INDUCTEE
• First Team All American
• Undefeated National Champion
• First Round NFL Draft Choice
MERRITT ISLAND MUSTANG
In life things don’t always work out as expected, but for Derek Brown, his career in football was more than he ever could have imagined, and has led to his induction into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
As a child, Brown hadn’t thought much about choosing a profession. He was more concerned with fitting in at new schools and making new friends wherever he was. His father was a systems analyst for IBM and the family moved five times before he was eight years old.
A transfer to the Kennedy Space Center in the early days of the Space Shuttle Program gave the Browns a permanent residence and young Derek an opportunity to feel secure at last. The Browns bought a home on Merritt Island and Derek thought about trying out for a youth football team, but his mother thought he might get hurt.
However, as he grew taller and taller and showed great promise as an athlete, he got the attention of legendary Merritt Island High Mustangs Head Coach Gerald Odom. The Space Coast Hall of Fame coach took one look at the by now 6-foot-6 ninth grader Brown and couldn’t believe his good fortune.
PERFECT FIT FOR THE FIGHTING IRISH
Brown excelled as Merritt Island victories accumulated during his career as a Mustang, and so did a long line of recruiters who sent him letters, called the Brown home every night and tried to convince him to play college football for their school.
Loving his life in the Sunshine State, Brown initially leaned toward playing for the University of Florida Gators under Coach Steve Spurrier. But after careful deliberation over the course of his senior year in 1987, Brown narrowed his list of choices down to just two schools, the University of Miami and Notre Dame University.
His twin sisters, Renae and Jeanae, kept after him constantly to choose Notre Dame. He actually liked both schools and Hurricanes Coach Jimmy Johnson made a number of visits to the Brown home, but in the end Derek felt he would have more opportunity to play right away for the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame under Coach Lou Holtz, who he said reminded him of Coach Odom.
It was the right move. Brown fit right in with the Irish, scoring touchdowns on the first two catches he made as a collegian.
And by the time mid-season arrived in South Bend, Ind., Brown was starting at tight end for a Fighting Irish team that was 12-0 – and went on to win the 1988 National championship, halting Miami’s 36-game regular season win streak 31-30 and later stopping unbeaten West Virginia 34-21 in the Fiesta Bowl to seize the title.
Brown’s sophomore season was almost as exciting as his first as the Irish dashed through the year undefeated through their first 11 games before falling to Miami in the last regular season game. Notre Dame then beat Colorado in the Orange Bowl to finish second in the national rankings. In his final game in college as a senior, Brown led Notre Dame to a win over the Florida Gators in the 1992 Sugar Bowl.
GOES IN FIRST ROUND OF NFL DRAFT
His teams at Notre Dame went 43-7 during his college career and he was a first team All American in 1991.
In a total of 45 games played for the Fighting Irish, Brown caught 62 passes, racked up 899 receiving yards and scored eight touchdowns.
He was drafted by the New York Giants with the 14th pick of the 1992 NFL Draft and played three seasons with the Giants and later suited up for the Oakland Raiders, the Arizona Cardinals and the Jacksonville Jaguars before retiring.
Brown is now a successful businessman and lives in Clifton Park, N.Y. with his wife Kristin, his daughter, Sydney, and his son, Reece.
THE 2017 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 12.
FOR INFORMATION about the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame call 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com
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