TUSCALOOSA — Growing up in Decatur, a five-hour drive up Interstate 65 from Mobile, Deonte Brown is well aware of the Senior Bowl. Some of the top NFL Draft prospects covering on Mobile for a week of practice and a game is quite the attraction for many in the state.
This winter, Brown will participate in the practices and play in the game.
Brown, in the midst of a strong senior season, accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl. He plays his final game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday against Auburn.
“I was very, very grateful for it and I was excited to get it,” Brown said. “I really didn’t expect for me to get it but when I did I was very humble about it.”
Brown has the potential to be a valuable prospect in that setting for his ability to play both left and right guard. Many offensive linemen who switch sides of the line are bogged down by the technique involved: leading your drop backs for pass protection and your forward steps for run blocking with different feet, based on the stance required for the left and right sides of the ball.
Brown didn’t see that as a hurdle, giving him more time to focus on the mental challenge of mentally flipping responsibilities dependent on being left or right of the center.
Brown is part of an offensive line that has drawn the attention of the Joe Moore Award, given to the best offensive line in the nation. They have paved the way for running back Najee Harris to rank fifth in the SEC in yards a carry and first in the SEC in runs of 10 yards or more.
Harris is not blind to Brown’s role in that success.
“What sticks out most about Deonte Brown for me is when he pulls and he’s one-on-one with whoever’s coming that he’s pulling against,” Harris said. ‘It’s not a good sight for that (defender). So me just seeing him making those plays, that’s really what sticks out.”
Brown’s mauling run-blocking is another trait that will likely fare him well when practicing in front of NFL coaching staffs and executives at the Senior Bowl. For now, Brown has a different bowl at the front of his mind.
“Any kid that plays football in Alabama,” Brown said of the Iron Bowl, “they dream of this game.”