Largo held a ceremony for its lone signee inside the weight room, a symbolic move because that’s where Packers coach Rick Rodriguez says the work originally starts for coveted prospects.
But defensive lineman Harry Brown’s path toward an athletic scholarship had as much to do with his brains as his brawn. Brown has a 4.2 weighted GPA and scored 1490 on his SAT. He had offers to play at schools such as Wofford and Coastal Carolina.
But Brown wanted to go to a school where he could not only play right away, but one that also had an outstanding and well-deserved reputation in engineering.
So Brown signed with Florida Tech, the only school with an offer that had a four-year engineering program.
“I could have gone to a school that might have been better for me in football,” Brown said. “But I wanted to go to a school that was the best fit for me both athletically and academically. Don’t get me wrong. I still want to try to get to the league (NFL). But I had to look at my degree first.”
Brown’s parents, Stephanie and Harry, both stressed academics at an early age, enrolling him at Wellington School in Largo through middle school.
“We wanted to set a foundation of strong academics right away,” Stephanie Brown said. “That’s always been stressed in my family.
My mother (Mary McNeal) was the first to graduate from college in 1952, and that’s been passed down ever since.”
As Brown continued to shine in athletics and academics in high school, his parents put together a plan to get the attention of colleges.
At the urging of his father, Brown wrote more than 30 letters to colleges. His dad researched each institution to find the right school.
“It really turned into a part-time job for my husband,” Stephanie Brown said. “He put a lot of time and effort going through everything. I think we found a school that is one of the best-kept secrets and one that will make Harry happy.
“He’s already made us proud.”