Florida offensive lineman and former Westover star Trenton Brown (74) walks back after running a drill during an open practice session recently in Gainesville, Fla. Brown is the largest player on Florida’s roster and is quickly making an impact during his first year with the team. (Gainesville Sun/Special to The Herald)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Gators sophomore defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. played against some of the nation’s top football recruits in the state’s star-studded Class 6A while in high school — but none of them have sized up to former Westover Star Trenton Brown.
“Trenton Brown is the biggest person I’ve ever seen in my life,” Fowler told The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun.
Brown already might be the biggest player to ever come through Gainesville.
The 6-foot-8, 363-pound offensive tackle and former Herald Dynamite Dozen selection is preparing for his first season at Florida since transferring to the SEC school after playing two seasons at Georgia Military College, and the Gators talked extensively with The Sun on Thursday about the team’s newest star.
“We just talk about how huge he is every time we see him,” offensive tackle D.J. Humphries told the newspaper. “When he walks up to the board to go over a play, we say, ‘Man, he’s huge.’ I’ve never seen a lineman that big with my own eyes.”
Those were about the same thoughts that went through the mind of Westover coach Octavia Jones when he first saw Brown.
“When he first walked in the door with him and his dad — and you know his dad is very tall, too — but they walked into the door to the office, and I was sitting at the computer doing something,” Jones told The Herald on Friday. “I looked all the way at both of them, and he was like, ‘Coach, I’m coming to Westover for football.’ I immediately got happy.”
Brown towers over his Gator teammates and has made quite an impression since changing his commitment from Georgia to Florida last December.
“The first reaction (the other offensive linemen had) is we felt like we were in third grade again looking up at a high schooler,” Moore, a near giant himself at 6-6 and 312 pounds, told the paper.
At 6-3, 302 pounds, Florida center Jonotthan Harrison agrees with Moore.
“Man, I feel like a child next to (Brown),” Harrison told the paper.
Jones knew the potential was there all along for Brown to be great.
“When he was (at Westover) he was about 6-7 and right at about 300 pounds. We knew he hadn’t reached his full potential yet, but he had the prototypical body for a Division I offensive lineman,” Jones said. “I knew he was going to have an opportunity to go to a Division I school, and he needed the junior college route to help blossom some. I really thought he was going to go to Georgia, but he ended up going down to the Gators.”
Jones, a self-proclaimed “Georgia boy,” admitted he’s still not going to be rooting for the Gators — but he will always be a Trenton Brown fan.
“I will cheer him on,” Jones said. “Just because I’m Georgia born doesn’t mean I can’t cheer for him. I’m a Trenton Brown fan.”
Brown missed the beginning of his senior season at Westover in 2010 because of a technicality in his transfer from Deerfield-Windsor, but once he joined the Patriots on the field he became the lead blocker and finished the season grading out at 90 percent.
After spending two years knocking defensive linemen out of their cleats at GMC, Brown was labeled as a 4-star athlete by 247 Sports and became one of Florida’s most prized recruits.
“That kid has created a lot of frustration for the guys he has to go against,” Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease told The Sun. “He’s got a lot of ability. He’s done a good job. When he’s in a one-on-one situation, he’s very talented. He’s big, he’s strong, and he can move, so he’s going to be a real good football player.”
Fowler is one of Florida’s defensive linemen fighting for reps in preseason practices, and he admitted it’s been a challenge lining up against Brown.
“I did (try to bull rush him) and it wasn’t great,” Fowler told the paper. “I go against Trenton a lot. It’s hard. That’s a big guy. It takes a little while to get around him. … He can get off the ball as quick as we can. When you see that big body around you, you’re kind of like you don’t know what to do. Next thing you know you’re running into him, and that’s not a good thing to do.
“I can beat him around the edge with my speed. But he has a good (skill) set and can make it difficult. He’s got a little nasty streak. You don’t want that nasty streak to come out.”
Fowler also said he couldn’t imagine the pain of catching Brown’s fall after any of their on-the-field collisions.
“It is scary,” Fowler told the paper. “I don’t want Trenton to ever fall on me. If he does, I’m pretty sure my body will be printed in the grass. I don’t want that.”