The town of Prentiss, Miss., has a total area of almost two square miles. Its population is about 2,000, according to the 2000 Census.
USC cornerback and redshirt freshman Anthony Brown hails from Prentiss. Brown never once thought about playing football in college, or even college itself, while in Mississippi. He grew up in Prentiss, but he never grew up until he came to Southern California.
“Out there, there was nothing to do. I got into a lot of trouble when I was little but that’s in the past now,” he said. “I moved out here and did like a whole 360. Sometimes I look back in my past and wonder ‘why was I doing that, why did I put my mom and family through that.’”
Brown’s parents split up when he was a young boy, his dad living in the Inland Empire in California, his mom back in Mississippi. So while in Prentiss, Brown said he had to become the leader of a house of six.
“The violence I came up living in, not having much, just the environment I was in, it was lower class for sure,” he said. “That’s a lot growing up.”
The 2009 All-Inland Valley MVP made the move to the “IE” with his dad four years ago, so he could shape up. Upon his arrival, Brown said his dad set a plan for him to focus on two things: football and his education. Brown warmly accepted the change.
“I wanted to change because I was in Mississippi in the South and now I’m in Southern California so why not make a change. I’m blessed right now to be where I’m at,” he said.
His first year in the Golden State, Brown went to Rialto High in Rialto, Calif. The following year, he transferred to powerhouse Kaiser High in nearby Fontana. In high school he played both running back and defensive back. His sophomore year he realized his potential, and knew it was important to take his game seriously.
“The change I committed to was to being successful and being able to do stuff in the long run because the way I was going I wasn’t going to be able to do stuff in the long run or be successful.”
Success came quickly for Brown. In his last two years at Kaiser, he rushed for nearly 2,700 yards and scored 29 touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, he recorded more than 100 tackles and four interceptions. But the opportunity to do both—scoring on defense-- is what Brown enjoys most.
“On the other side being a running back [you] get all the glory, holding the rock all the time is pretty good,” he said. “But me I see holding the football as a defensive back is like a treat. So whenever I get an interception or pick up a fumble I’ll make the best of it.”
Listed at 6’0, 185 pounds, Brown is slated to play behind starting corner Nickell Robey in USC’s latest depth chart. And when Brown redshirted last year, he learned a lot from Robey. Robey, a native of Frostproof, Fla., and Brown bonded over similar childhoods growing up in the South.
“[It was] stuff we went through growing up and like what we’ve overcome to be successful right now,” he said.
Brown hasn’t proved himself as a Trojan yet, but if he’s committed to execute his dad’s plan, and make up for his mistakes when he was younger, he just might have what it takes to excel at the next level.
“I’m going to be successful here because I have no choice. Because it’s something I want,” he said. “It’s something I promised my mom and myself. So I have to do it.”
Anthony Brown could see meaningful playing time at cornerback in 2011.
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