Prep Football: Salisbury's Brown signs with Fayetteville State
By Ronnie Gallagher
SALISBURY — William Brown seemed like just another high school football player until he played in the 2010 2AA state championship game.
Salisbury destroyed Northeastern 30-0 and while Romar Morris and Dominique Dismuke walked off the the postgame awards, the Hornet coaches knew there was an unsung hero on their side named Brown.
Northeastern was running away from Darien Rankin — and for good reason. He was an all-state defender on his way to North Carolina.
Assistant David Johnson knew that would happen before the first snap. And that’s why he motioned Brown over for a little chat.
“We’ve got Darien Rankin on one side,” Johnson said he told Brown, then a junior. “Who do you think they’re coming after?”
Brown was ready for the big stage. He thwarted everything.
“I was thinking of making big plays,” Brown says now, fondly remembering the night at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem. “I showed them that if they come to my side, they’ll get the same thing as if they went to Darien’s.”
Johnson knew that night it was going to be a good senior season for Brown.
“When (Northeastern) started to attack him, he showed me he was going to be the leader,” Johnson said. “He was going to be the one on defense we could count on.”
Head coach Joe Pinyan says Brown could be counted on in the classroom, too. And away from campus.
Fayetteville State saw the same intangibles in the 6-foot-4 defender who played the Hornet position (a little defensive end, a little safety). The Broncos have signed Brown to a full ride.
“He’s a prime example of what every coach would like to have,” Pinyan said. “He’ll get his college education paid for because of it.”
No one was thinking college scholarship when Brown showed up to practice as a freshman. Pinyan said he saw this tall, gangly kid who could possibly make an impact one day. But Pinyan knew what it would take.
“Hit the weight room, be coachable and do all the little things right,” Pinyan said.
Brown did from the beginning.
“He took beatings,” Johnson said of Brown’s first year. “But the tables turned. This past summer, he was in the weight room every single day.”
Brown laughs about the early practices.
“I was always skinny,” Brown said, “but the weight room paid off. Not so much my size, but that I was getting quicker and stronger.”
Brown was a key to Salisbury’s 11-3 season. He did not win another football state championship but went straight to indoor track. He eventually got his state title in the high jump.
Brown has always made good grades and he received interest from small schools. Division III teams wanted him but with no scholarships, he turned to Fayetteville State.
“My mother said, ‘Go where the money is,’ ” Brown said. “I talked to all the coaches about what they’d do for me. We clicked.”
It made Pinyan a happy coach.
“William’s got a great opportunity to get bigger and bigger,” he said. “He’s got a great frame. Fayetteville State realizes that. His best days are ahead of him.”
Brown plans to play safety and added he might redshirt.
“It’s going to be awesome,” he beamed. “I’m going to work hard.”
No surprise there.
Pinyan knows what the Broncos are getting: a young man with a bright future on and off the field.
“Sometimes, kids just don’t understand that it’s what you do off the field that is just as important as what you do on it,” Pinyan said. “William is the success story you look back on and say, ‘That’s what it’s all about.’ ”