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DOVER - Colby Brown had neither the stature nor the statistics to merit much attention among the more highly-touted quarterbacks in his group.
He left fledgling stardom at Orlando Olympia for a season of virtual anonymity at Plant, spending much of the past fall on the sideline behind college-bound senior Aaron Banks.
Thus, Brown entered this past weekend's Big County Preps Ignite Showcase as an afterthought to major-college prospects like Wharton’s Chase Litton, Hillsborough’s Dwayne Lawson and Gaither’s Alex McGough.
He left as the MVP.
“They really didn’t know me that well,” Brown said. “I wanted to come out and show that just because I didn’t get to start last year that I’m still one of the better guys in state and county.”
Brown’s emergence was one of the surprises of the BCP Ignite Showcase, which has essentially become the latest carnival of competition for aspiring college recruits in the bay area.
Nearly 270 players and dozens of local coaches and football fans made their way to Strawberry Crest High for the event Saturday.
The day started with traditional football combine drills such as 40-yard-dashes, standing broad jumps and three-cone drills.
But the highlight of the event, of course, was the one-on-one competition between receivers and defensive backs, running backs and linebackers, and offensive linemen and defensive linemen.
The linemen attracted some of the largest crowds of the day because of the quality of the group and their aggressive play, which drew loud hoots of approval from the coaching staff.
For blue-chip recruits like Lakewood junior offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn, Saturday was merely another opportunity to affirm his status as one of the area’s best linemen.
“I felt good about my performance,” said Wynn, who earned offensive line MVP honors for a second-straight year. “This year I felt like they had a lot of competition from outside of the area as opposed to people I regularly get to go against.”
For Brown, Ignite was a coming-out party after a year stuck on the bench.
After leading Olympia to the playoffs as a sophomore in 2011, Brown transferred to Plant and had to wait his turn.
He started two games when Banks went down with an injury, leading the Panthers to wins over Wharton and Brandon. He finished the season 32-of-59 for 470 yards with four touchdowns and an interception - solid numbers but nothing that indicated he was prepared to continue the legacy of Aaron Murray or Phillip Ely.
So Brown went out to Strawberry Crest eager to prove he was every bit the equal of the area’s top quarterbacks. By the end of the day, Brown had shown he was much more than their equal.
“I was actually pretty surprised,” Brown said of being named MVP. “I threw pretty well but I thought I could throw a lot better.”
Though Brown currently doesn’t have any scholarship offers, he has spoken with almost all of the big-name college coaches who passed through Plant in the past few weeks: Florida’s Will Muschamp, Georgia’s Mark Richt and Boston College’s Steve Addazio, to name a few.
He expects to drum up more interest during spring practices and summer camps in the coming months.
“I don’t know where I stand with some of the bigger schools,” Brown said. “But I know I’m on some schools’ radar.”
Complete list of Ignite MVPs (name, school, class):
Colby Brown, Plant 2014
Michael Duclos, Robinson 2015
Keith Harrington, Northeast 2014
Codaryl Pandolfo, Ridge Community 2014
Roderick Burney, Plant City 2015
Isaiah Wynn, Lakewood 2014
Corey Martinez, Tampa Catholic 2014
Sedrick King, Plant City 2014
Demetrius Artis, Seminole (Sanford, FL) 2015
Scott Patchan, Freedom 2015
Andrew Beck, Plant 2014
Josh Black, Sickles 2014
Cordell Hudson, Largo 2014
Brandon Peters, Robinson 2014