Uni's Brown named to NFL's mentoring program

Kevin Brown, a University High football player, recently was selected to be a part of the NFL's mentoring program, an opportunity exclusive to just four high school football players in the nation this year.

Brown initially was nominated for the program by his coach, Mark Cunningham, and he was later selected after each player submitted an essay.

"I wrote about how a Hall of Famer could change my future, how he could help me become a better leader and support my team," said Brown, who is getting ready for his senior season at Uni. "And, how we could help me out in all areas of my life. Not just in sports but academics, and picking a college."

Brown and the other three honorees will travel to Canton, Ohio the first week in August for the NFL's Hall of Fame game between the Cardinals and Saints and the induction ceremony of the Hall's newest members, Jack Butler, Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Curtis Martin and Willie Roaf.

Many current Hall of Famers will also be in attendance, and Brown expects to find out which one will be his personal mentor. He said it will be either Mike Haynes, a former defensive back with the Raiders and Patriots, or Ron Yary, a former offensive lineman with the Vikings and Rams.

So what will the mentor do for Brown?

"I'll get his personal phone number and be able to ask any questions I want," Brown said. "I could have him come out to a practice and help the team. I can hang out with him, basically ask any question about college or anything else in life about my future."

It's something Brown said he hopes will not only help him personally, but also the University football team. Last year's team was 3-7, including 1-4 in the Pacific Coast League.

"I expect great things this season," said Brown, who plays defensive tackle on defense and tight end and fullback on offense. "We haven't had the greatest record the past couple of years but we're going to change that this year. We have a lot of good talent and Coach Cunningham is a great coach. We're going to change things this year, and I'll do everything I can to do that."

Last year Brown played sparingly on offense but he said he expects that to change this season. Defensively last year, he averaged 5.5 tackles per game and .8 sacks per game.

Brown said his favorite NFL player is Jason Pierre-Paul, a defensive end with the New York Giants, but Brown admits, at 5-foot-9, 200 pounds, his football future won't likely be on the line.

"I'll definitely switch positions if I play college football," he said. "Probably outside linebacker or fullback."

That's why Brown has been focusing heavily on increasing his speed during his summer workouts.

Brown hasn't played other sports during his high school days, but he will compete in the shotput in track and field next spring after his high school football career is finished. He hasn't started looking seriously at colleges yet, but he said "at the top of my list" is San Diego State and Arizona State.

Brown has been playing football since sixth grade in Atlanta, Ga., where he grew up before moving to Irvine before his freshman year.

And, while Brown said he feels honored to be named to the NFL's mentoring program, he's already had an influential mentor in his life – his father, Craig.

"He influenced me to start playing football and he's been a role model for me," Brown said. "He's very proud of me, and he's super excited to meet all the Hall of Famers. He knows it's a great opportunity for me."

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