Evan Brown sure didn’t play like an alternate.
A late addition to the East roster, the Heritage High School senior emerged one of the stars of the day at the Toyota East-West All-Star Classic last Saturday at Carson-Newman College’s Burke-Tarr Stadium.
Brown collected four tackles, including three sacks, as the East ran away from their West counterparts, 26-9, to square the four-year-old series at two games each. It wasn’t so much the sacks as it was who Brown raced past to collect them that turned heads.
At one of the tackles for the West All-Stars was Brentwood senior and Duke commitment Ron Crawford. When Brown lined up at the other defensive end position, there stood Arlington’s James Lewis, who’s committed to Vanderbilt.
“I knew I had to play up to their level when I’m playing against people that are already D-I committed,” Brown said.
For his efforts, Brown was named the MyVLT Defensive Most Valuable Player of the game, with Alcoa senior Austin Tallant receiving the game’s top defensive honor from the Tennessee Athletic Coaches Association. Tallant finished with a game-high nine stops, adding a kickoff returned for 36 yards.
Blount County sent a total of eight players to the senior showcase, with receiver Steven Isom, running back Darrell Warren and offensive lineman Derek Evans joining Tallant in representing the Tornadoes. Placekicker Zach Sharp, defensive back Stian Romberg and receiver Desmund Horne were named to the East squad from Maryville.
Most players from both squads had yet to declare their intentions for play on the next level. Of Blount County’s contingent, only the Mr. Football lineman Warren (Chattanooga) and the Mr. Football finalist Evans (Virginia Military Institute) have announced commitments. Much of that could change following Saturday’s performances.
“There are a lot more people on their trail,” Alcoa coach Gary Rankin said.
Isom could very well be next off the board for the Tornadoes. Host Carson-Newman is heavily pursuing the 6-foot-4 Alcoa senior. Several Eagle coaches watched the contest from the comfort of their offices in the new Ken Sparks Athletic Complex adjacent to the Stadium.
Isom gave them a good show, catching five passes for 61 yards, including a 47-yard grab down the sideline in front of the West bench. A one-handed catch in heavy traffic looked every bit the real thing.
With Tennessee commitment Devrin Young of Bearden unavailable because of a sore shoulder and Warren lost to a sprained ankle on the game’s first drive, the East All-Stars went bombs away to subdue their guests.
Christian Academy of Knoxville senior Quinn Epperly finished 15-of-25 passing for 230 yards and a 48-yard touchdown pass to McCallie’s Keenan Hale in securing offensive most valuable player for the East. Anderson County state record holder Tanner Williams sliced up the West defense for 112 yards on 13-of-25 passing and a 7-yard scoring toss to Scott High’s Jacob Sexton.
Sharp, the Mr. Football kicker of the year, added field goals of 38 and 32 yards. Oakland’s Buddy Mitchell returned an interception 95 yards for a touchdown as time expired to conclude the scoring.