Former Carver Tiger Mekhi Brown’s time at Alabama has been a steady progression through three years. While his best football as part of the Crimson Tide is ahead of him, Brown is eager to show off his stuff back in his home state.
Brown, a redshirt sophomore at Alabama, will take the field Monday in Mercedes-Benz Stadium as the Crimson Tide fight for their second national title since Brown joined the team. It’s games like the one he’ll suit up for hours from now that led Brown to commit to Alabama as a sophomore at Carver and ultimately stick by that decision.
“We’re used to it,” Brown said of the big-game atmosphere. “We try to take every game the same. We don’t make one game bigger than any other game.”
Brown was a defensive force back in Columbus, which earned him a four-star rating across the board. His 6-foot-6, 220-pound frame coupled with his knack for being in the right place at the right time drew a lot of attention and ultimately earned him a spot in the 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
“You weren’t running that way,” said Joe Kegler, who was Brown’s head coach at Carver. “He did a great job of anchoring that edge and making sure he turned plays back inside to our linebackers. He was always an impact player making big plays for us.”
By Brown’s own account, his time at Alabama has been a constant build-up.
Brown redshirted in 2015, which allowed him to learn from elite coaches and some of the top defensive players in the country. He found the field in three games down the stretch of his redshirt freshman season, playing against Mississippi State, Chattanooga and Florida in the SEC Championship Game.
This year, Brown has played in 11 of the Crimson Tide’s 13 games, registering multiple tackles against Colorado State and Mercer. He pulled down Clemson kick returner Travis Etienne in the Crimson Tide’s blowout win to open its College Football Playoff run.
Brown said he’s improved in his coverage ability and added to his catalogue of pass-rush moves. He also explained it didn’t take long to realize the commitment he had to make to grow his game.
“I realized my first two years that you’ve got to make it your priority. If you don’t watch film every day or don’t work on yourself every day, it’s not going to work out,” Brown said. “It’s pretty much how it’s been -- just trying to take everything that comes to me and doing the best I can.”
Brown’s improvements have caught members of the team’s attention. Outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi spoke highly of his development, saying he’s seen steady improvement from him this year. Senior inside linebacker Rashaan Evans also had high praise for his teammate, saying he sees Brown breaking through as a junior.
“I feel like next year is definitely going to be his year,” Evans said. “He’s a long-length athlete who can run. I feel like right now he’s able to go through the things that I kind of went through, to be honest with you. I think now he understands that next year -- whenever he does have the biggest opportunity of his life -- he’ll take full advantage of it.”
While the future is promising for Brown, he’s fully concentrated on ending this season on the right note. He said he looks forward to facing off with the Bulldogs and is intent on showing what happens when you face Alabama with a national title on the line.
“It’s going to feel good beating Georgia,” Brown said. “That’s all I’m going to say.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports