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A spirit that is not afraid

Family, football and a decision: Why Derrick Brown came back to Auburn

When it's all said and done, Derrick Brown will leave Auburn with numerous accomplishments, but the most important might be his diploma.

Derrick Brown answers a question during an interview at SEC Media Days at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham-Wynfrey Hotel on Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Hoover, Ala.
Derrick Brown answers a question during an interview at SEC Media Days at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham-Wynfrey Hotel on Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Hoover, Ala.

HOOVER, Ala. One-hundred and fifteen career tackles, nine sacks, and numerous All-SEC nods. Derrick Brown has built an impressive resume while at Auburn. 

In his junior season, he recorded 48 total tackles, 10.5 for a loss and 4.5 sacks. These stats were solid enough to earn Brown a spot on the previously mentioned All-SEC second-team. 

Ahead of his senior season, Brown had a decision to make. As a projected first-round pick by most in the 2019 NFL draft, Auburn fans would have understood if Brown had forgone his senior season and declared for the NFL draft. 

Instead Brown decided to stay at Auburn for his senior season and rejoin his teammates and the Auburn family for one last go around.  

For Brown, a business school student, it wasn't purely just about coming back for another football season. It was also about coming back for his degree and his family. 

"My dad always told me to always finish everything you started," Brown said at the 2019 SEC Media Days, "and you know having to worry about how long it would take to get my degree if I had left and came back and how many springs that would look like.

"I wholeheartedly decided that it was better for me to finish my degree now and I wanted to say the same for my son growing up, education is what's going to happen, it's not an option."  

It's just not about keeping a promise to his parents and setting an example for his son. Derrick will also get the opportunity to play alongside his younger brother, Kameron Brown.

Kameron Brown is an inside linebacker joining Auburn in the fall. Kameron was the No. 93-ranked inside linebacker in the 2019 class according to 247Sports and was a two-star recruit by Rivals.  

Playing alongside Kameron is something that Derrick hasn't gotten to do since his senior year of high school and Kameron's freshmen year. It's a moment that was very special for Derrick and one that played a factor in him returning this season as well. 

"I mean, it was a big factor," Derrick said of playing with Kameron. "I actually got to play one snap of my senior night when I was in high school with my little brother, and he ended up making the tackle, and that's something that I will forever remember. I'm just kind of excited for that moment to be able to come up this fall."

The 6-foot-5, 318-pound defensive tackle might be a monster on the field for opposing quarterbacks and offensive linemen alike; but in the classroom, Derrick Brown is a whole other beast, finishing his freshman year on the SEC first-year Academic Honor Roll and following it up with an appearance on the SEC Academic Honor Roll and being named an Academic Top Tiger in his sophomore year. 

To achieve Top Tiger status, a student-athlete must have a minimum 3.0 GPA for the academic year or for their career. Getting on the Academic honor roll is similar in that you must have a 3.0 GPA or higher for at least two semesters. 

Derrick Brown and the Auburn defensive line have a ton of hype coming into this season as they return three senior leaders in Nick Coe, Davidson and Derrick Brown. 

With the hype of being seen as one of the top SEC defensive lines, it would be easy to lose focus. Derrick Brown though has been keeping everything in perspective for the upcoming season by focusing on fatherhood. 

The small details of football now are that much more crucial for Derrick Brown. 

"I absolutely love it (on fatherhood). I know that football will hopefully be my career, so it is a lot more important," Brown said. "I mean, every little detail now becomes so much more important, because now I am a provider for someone else's livelihood. My son obviously can't take care of himself, and that's my job, so that's what I am going to do."

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