BOZICH | Jamon Brown, Louisville's 2011 football class prove rec - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Jamon Brown, Louisville's 2011 football class prove recruiting gurus wrong

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A year ago Jamon Brown was protecting horses as a security guard at Churchill Downs. On Thursday Brown traveled to St. Louis to begin his new job – protecting quarterbacks for the Rams.

"I worked Gate 5, Gate 8, kind of where the horses come in and out," Brown said.

I know. Brown stopped me several times, requesting my credential. Not one time did he wave me through without showing it, something I have teased him about several times.

Now Nick Foles, the Rams' quarterback, has to believe that Brown will protect him the way he protected California Chrome. Brown is a mammoth offensive tackle, measured at 6-feet-4, 323 pounds. He checked in at the Rams' first mini-camp Thursday.

"Who would have thought?" Brown said.

Certainly not the recruiting gurus. I checked the 2011 scouting lists from Scout.com and Rivals.com, when Brown was a senior at Fern Creek High School.

Scout ranked him the 52nd best player in the nation – at defensive tackle. Brown excelled on the offensive line at the University of Louisville.

Rivals also listed him as a defensive prospect, No. 58 nationally, with scholarship offers from Kentucky, Purdue and Illinois.

Last Friday Brown was selected in the third round by the Rams. Only 16 offensive linemen were selected ahead of him. He was the 72nd overall pick. The player taken 72nd in the 2014 draft, Scott Crichton of the Vikings, signed a four-year contract for $3.020 million. As a rookie Crichton received a $164,081 signing bonus and earned a salary of $420,000.

The first congratulatory phone call came from Charlie Strong, who was also the first guy to determine that Brown's future was blocking, not tackling.

Strong, who left U of L for Texas after Brown's junior season, was so eager to share the moment that he called Brown while the player was still on the telephone with the Rams.

"Coach Strong was a guy that took a chance on me and believed in me," Brown said. "He offered me a scholarship and once he got me here he actually taught me a lot.

"A lot of football and a lot of just life lessons. To have him call and just congratulate me on the work that I've put in and to tell me that he had always believed in me and knew that I could do it, it gives you're a great feeling, a great feeling."

Here is another interesting footnote: Brown and Ballard High product DeVante Parker were the first two commitments in Louisville's 2011 recruiting class, a group that eventually included 21 players.

The NFL has drafted 10 players from that class. Eight were taken last week. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and safety Calvin Pryor were selected in the first round of the 2014 draft.

That was a recruiting class that Scout.com ranked 33rd best nationally and that Rivals ranked 29th.

For the record, over the last four seasons, Louisville won 39 games, including the Sugar Bowl and the Russell Athletic Bowl.

The first two players from the group drafted last week played high school football in Jefferson County, not Tampa, Miami or Jacksonville.

"It just goes to show you that in Louisville, we do play football," Brown said. "We might not have the notoriety of Florida and Texas, but we do play good ball, too.

"It would be kind of fun to tease those guys (from Florida). But we've all put in hard work. It's honestly a blessing to have myself and Parker be the first two off the board from our team.”

Now Brown has two more assignments: Prove to the Rams that they invested their third-round draft pick wisely and share his message of achievement with young football players from Jefferson County.

"I hope I inspire somebody," he said. "I'm big on trying to have an impact on my community.

"I hope it inspires somebody else in Fern Creek to believe that they can make it, too, if they really believe and really chase their dream."

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