Originally Published: July 10, 2013

Tony Brown perseveres despite father's stroke

By William Wilkerson | ESPN HornsNation

ESPN 300 defensive back Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) is a mama's boy through and through. His mother, Tammy Walker-Brown, will tell you so without hesitation.

But there isn't a voice on this earth that resonates more with Brown than his namesake father's.

That's precisely what has made the last year of Brown's life the most difficult of the 17 he has lived: The silence.

His father suffered a stroke before the first day of the 2012-13 school year. He can no longer speak.

Tony Brown
Tom Hauck for Student SportsTop 2014 defensive back Tony Brown turned heads at The Opening with his elite athleticism.

After the stroke came a five-week-long medically induced coma. Once the medicine stopped, he stayed in a coma for another six weeks.

All the while, silence. Still to this day, silence.

Silence through the most important and eventful year of Brown's young but incredibly promising career.

Not only is Brown one of the most sought-after recruits in the country, with football royalty the likes of Mack Brown, Nick Saban and Les Miles in hot pursuit, he's also one of the top hurdlers in the world. He'll represent the United States at the 2013 Pan American Junior Athletics Championship in Medellin, Colombia, from Aug. 23-25.

Last week, Brown's father moved back into their home for the first time since the stroke. He will be screaming in spirit as his son competes against the world's best. It's about all he can muster for the time being.

Tony Brown Sr. will gain the ability to speak again, his doctors say. They say speech is often the last thing to return to a stroke survivor. When he does, though, he'll be able to commend his son for conquering the past year with dignity and perseverance.

Coping with a stroke

The day that would alter the course of Brown family's life started like any other in preseason, with the younger Brown in the weight room and the elder Brown, then Ozen's defensive coordinator, in the coach's office, planning for the 2012 season opener.

"One of the coaches came out and said I needed to call my mom," Brown said. "I walked in to where they were and [my father] looked like he was just passed out. His eyes were open and he couldn't talk. We didn't think it was anything serious. He didn't eat anything for breakfast that morning, so I was thinking maybe he needed some sugar."

But Brown's mother, the Ozen girls basketball coach, told him differently.

"Strokes are major," Walker-Brown said. "The only assurance that I could give Tony is that it happened for a reason, a reason we can't explain. I think that his dad's silence, his dad's voice, had rung in his ear for a long time. For it to just stop …"

For the full story, check out ESPN's HornsNation Insider.

Sony Michel hopes to be all-time great at UGA

By Kipp Adams | ESPN DawgNation

Herschel Walker. Charley Trippi. Frank Sinkwich. Garrison Hearst. Bob McWhorter. Knowshon Moreno. Those were the running backs taken by panelists Mark Schlabach, David Ching and Josh Kendall in this week's Georgia Bulldogs all-time draft. They are some of the brightest stars to shine at running back between the hedges. Sony Michel (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage), the No. 17 prospect in the 2014 ESPN 300 and a University of Georgia verbal commitment, plans to one day add his name to the list.

"I think I could be one of the best to ever play in college," Michel said. "I am going to try and go in there, do my best, compete for my spot next year and see what happens. If I stay healthy I feel like I will be in the mix for early playing time."

Adrian Peterson
Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesPeople in South Florida say Georgia commit Sony Michel has the skills to be the next Adrian Peterson.

Reporters and those in the know in South Florida have told Michel, who stands 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, he compares favorably to Adrian Peterson coming out of high school. Former Miami Hurricanes running backs coach Terry Richardson, who coached Donald Brown at UConn and now coaches running backs for the Jacksonville Jaguars, told Michel two years ago that he could be the next Willis McGahee. Strong comparisons like that put a lot of pressure on a rising high school senior, but Michel has dealt with the hype machine for some time now.

In 2009, Michel, playing up on the American Heritage varsity team in eighth grade, ran for 1,825 yards and 18 touchdowns and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, each going over 90 yards. As a freshman the following season, Michel's added to his local legend by running for 1,730 yards and scoring 22 touchdowns.

Tales of his impressive feats quickly spread throughout Miami, and buzz grew as fans learned that the ninth-grade running back grew up a huge fan of the Hurricanes. Already targeted by the Miami coaching staff, Michel pictured his dreams coming true in the near future, suiting up to play for his hometown school in Coral Gables.

"I always thought I would end up at Miami," Michel said. "At one point after they offered me I was certain. I visited that campus over 20 times."

But Michel took visits to other programs like Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Notre Dame over the next two years and his stance changed.

"I started getting more offers and after taking visits my perspective changed and the reality set in that I needed to take everything into consideration with this decision," Michel said.

Entering last fall, Michel still felt he would likely end up staying in-state, whether it be for the Hurricanes, Gators or Seminoles. But a trip out of state in September changed everything.

For the full story, check out ESPN's DawgNation Insider.

Kipp Adams | email

Reporter, RecruitingNation