The audition was a smash.
Heritage coach Brint Russell believes Carson-Newman will be even more impressed with Evan Brown once it gets the speedy Mountaineer pass rusher on campus this fall.
Brown signed a National Letter of Intent with the Eagles last Friday at the high school. Mountaineer quarterback Tyler Hartley committed to continue his football career at Emory & Henry College during the same gathering in the Heritage gymnasium.
Both, Russell said, will shine at the next level.
“I’m real proud of Evan and the work he’s put in,” he said. “He’s come a long way in the two years we’ve been here. He’s going to be really hard to replace.
“Tyler has an opportunity to compete there for playing time. What got him to the next level is his mechanics, his technique and his ability to throw the football. That’s the reason he can run the spread.”
The Blount County sack champion going away this past season with 28 in 10 games, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Brown performed brilliantly at the Toyota East-West All-Star Classic last December at Carson-Newman’s Burke-Tarr Stadium.
He’d been a late addition to the roster, but the Heritage defensive end made the most of the opportunity, coming away with four tackles, including three sacks, against a pair of Division I offensive linemen headed to Vanderbilt and Duke, respectively.
For his efforts in a 26-9 East win, Brown was named the MyVLT Defensive Most Valuable Player of the Game. The Eagle coaching stepped up recruitment of Brown immediately afterward.
“Every college I’ve visited brought up the East-West all-star game,” Brown said.
Brown said the Eagles have talked of keeping him at defensive end, but, possessing excellent open-field speed, he’s played some tight end for the Mountaineers.
“I’ve played lineman all my life; I have lineman-hands syndrome,” Brown quipped.
Wherever the Eagles play him, Brown will excel, Russell said.
“Evan’s going to fit in well,” he said. “I’ve had other kids that have played there, and he’s going to do well.”
Carson-Newman finished 7-4 overall in 2010, its 5-2 South Atlantic Conference mark good enough for runner up in league play.
In two seasons running the Mountaineer spread offense, Hartley developed into one of the region’s top passers, throwing for better than 1,000 yards each of the last two seasons. Hartley’s familiarity with the offense at Heritage will only help his chances in competing for playing time as a Wasp, who run a similar offense.
“I hadn’t really decided to go there until the coach contacted me,” Hartley said. “Once I took a visit to that campus, it was a no-brainer. I’m just going to do the best I can, get used to the coaches and learn. It puts me in a good position to have an opportunity like this.”
The Wasps were 5-5 a year ago, 1-5 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.