Davonte Brown grew up like almost any other fan of the Miami Hurricanes. He got out to games in Miami Gardens a few times a year. He organized his Saturdays around watching the Hurricanes on television. His mom and dad would spend the afternoons yelling at said TV when things weren’t going well.
There was just one big difference: Brown’s father played for Miami about 30 years ago. Selwyn Brown as an integral part of the Hurricanes during their 1980s glory years, even starting in the secondary when they won the national championship after the 1987 season.
“I went to a few games,” Brown said. “I always watched them on TV. My dad, my mom were big fans, screaming at the TV when things aren’t going right. When Miami was playing, I always watching.”
It made the October night he checked his phone and saw a message from DeMarcus Van Dyke waiting for him especially meaningful. Plantation American Heritage had just blown out Clearwater American Collegiate Academy and Brown had a message from the assistant recruiting director. Brown followed Van Dyke on Twitter and Instagram, and the two started talking. A few days later, the Hurricanes extended a scholarship offer to the three-star cornerback.
“I was shocked. It kind of came out of nowhere,” Brown said last Tuesday in Plantation ahead of an American Heritage practice. “I grew up watching Miami, and I thought if I ever had an opportunity to go play and continue there I would.
“My dad, he don’t really show too much emotion, but I know inside he was probably pumped up. My mom was like, ‘Stay down here and play. I can come to all your games.’ I said, ‘We’ll see, mom.’”
Since they offered, the Hurricanes have made it clear Brown is important to them. They invited him out to Hard Rock Stadium for a game — he expects to be there Saturday when Miami plays its home finale against the Hard Rock stadium — and even brought him down to Coral Gables to watch practice the day after they beat the Pittsburgh Panthers last month.
Those invitations to Sunday practices are relatively rare. The Hurricanes typically only bring players down to campus for those when they view them as a major target. Brown has quickly jumped into such standing, even though he’s barely a top-300 prospect in Florida in the 247Sports.com composite rankings for the Class of 2020.
Amid a rocky first season for coach Manny Diaz, Miami’s only two 2020 recruiting defections have been in the secondary. Brown, 6-foot-2 and 160-pounds, was the first defensive back the Hurricanes offered following the decommitment of three-star Western safety Justin Hodges last month and he would fill a similar role as Hodges — both are lanky, physical corners with some questions marks regarding speed.
Brown set about trying to answer some of those athleticism questions in the spring when he started competing in track and field for the first time in high school. His time in the 100-meter dash dropped from about 11.70 seconds when he started out to about 11.10 by the end of the season. This coming spring, Brown expects his time to get down to about 10.70 seconds.
Brown’s offer list is now up to about 20 schools with the addition of Miami. He officially visited Pittsburgh in January and spent last weekend in Orlando for an official visit with the Central Florida Knights. He also said he might accompany three-star Patriots wide receiver Douglas Emilien — who has also emerged as a top target for the Hurricanes this fall — on an official visit with the West Virginia Mountaineers.
The Hurricanes, though, are all in on the senior based on what they’ve seen from him this season. He finished the regular season with 13 total tackles and one interception, and American Heritage is the No. 1 seed in Region 4-4A. Miami’s top priority is always finding corners who can play press man coverage. Brown can fill the need.
“They said they watched my film — improved a lot from last year, physical — they said I can run, play press,” Brown said. “They said I can fit in their scheme and come in and make an impact.”