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Ashley Brown: Former Greenbrier Standout To Close Out College Career In Military Bowl

Posted: December 14, 2016 - 2:33am  |  Updated: December 14, 2016 - 11:49pm

When the bowl pairings were announced this season, like everyone else, I quickly checked to see the matchups for the two playoff games. I also checked to see where my favorite school, Florida State, would be playing. After that I looked to see if Wake Forest had been selected for a bowl.

I was hoping they would be. I felt like it would be a great way for former Greenbrier standout Thomas Brown to wrap up his college career. Brown had a sensational prep career for the Pack. He was a three-time, All-County performer who had amassed 15 career interceptions. In 2011, he was Columbia County and Region 2-AAAAA's Defensive Player of the Year as he piled up 92 tackles and 4 interceptions. And, despite the fact that he had never played on the offensive side of the ball, he hauled in 22 passes for 478 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Brown signed with Air Force out of high school and spent the 2013 season at the Air Force Prep Academy, before deciding to signed with Wake Forest. He saw action in 11 games as a true freshman that season and showed a lot of potential. As a sophomore in 2014, Brown really took his game to another level. He earned a starting spot in the secondary and finished the season with 54 tackles, 2 sacks, 6 tackles for loss, and 2 forced fumbles. He also earned a reputation as one of the hardest hitters on the team.

A suspension caused him to miss the season opener last season, and he never really got on track. He went from being a intriguing NFL Prospect, to fighting for playing time. He had some great moments (9 tackles vs. North Carolina), but finished his junior season with just 20 tackles.

Then came a big surprise. Entering his senior season, Brown, who had played safety throughout his high school and college career, would be moving to linebacker. At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, he already had great size, and his athleticism made him the perfect candidate to convert to a type of hybrid linebacker that so many teams (college and pro) are using. The move was obviously a success.

Brown finished this season third on the team with 58 tackles, 3 sacks, 6 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, and 3 passes defended.

Wake Forest finished the season 6-6 and earned their first bowl invitation since 2001. They will square off with Temple in the Military Bowl to benefit the USO. The game, which will be played in Annapolis, Md., kicks off at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 27 in front of a nationally- televised audience on ESPN.

Temple will be a formidable opponent for Wake Forest. The Owls come in as champions of the American Athletic Conference, toppling No. 20 Navy, 34-10, in the Conference Championship Game. Temple is now ranked No. 23 in the country and boasts an impressive 10-3 record, so Brown and his teammates will have their hands full.

 

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