• John Macon Gillespie

Brown To Display Arm At Fortius Project

Legendary head coach Ricky Woods has been around high school football for a long time. In all that time, and though all his triumphs, he had never started a sophomore at quarterback until Malik Brown earned that nod in Woods's 2016 stop at Starkville.

“There was a lot of pressure on me, being only a sophomore,” Brown told SES Mississippi. “I heard confidence in myself, so I know I could prove my doubters wrong.”

His first campaign turned out to be an unusual one as his team failed to reach the playoffs after winning class 6A the previous year. Prior to the 2017 season Ricky Woods returned to Batesville to coach South Panola, and Brown got a new a new head coach in Chris Jones, who had just won the 3A title at Kemper County.

“Coach Jones is a very good coach,” Brown said. “He love players who always compete and work.”

With the offensive mind of Jones and the athleticism that Brown brought to the table, Starkville was bound to be dangerous threat. The Yellowjackets were just that. Brown and his team went 13-3 and made it to state championship game for the second time in three years. The Yellowjackets lost in a heartbreaker to Pearl, but Brown believes the things his team went through last season will play a big role in getting redemption in 2018.

“It took everyone buying in and coming together as a team. We had to embrace the grind and work to be champs,” Brown said. We came up short. It was a great experience. The goal is to be back and finish this time. The emphasis this whole offseason has been to finish.”

As the season went on, Brown became one of 6A’s most versatile athletes. He finished the season by going 167-273 for 1,928 yards and throwing 24 touchdowns. He also added 540 yards and four scores on the ground.

Brown’s road to redemption will run through the Fortius Project at Northeast Mississippi Community College on March 24. There, he will look to sharpen the mental part of his game.

“I haven gotten stronger and faster, but I'm working on being a smarter passer,” Brown said.

Cameron Gardener and Cameron Hines will not suit up in a Yellowjacket uniform again, but Brown has two other key weapons at receiver in Rufus Harvey and Tonorris Brookins returning this fall. They will be critical in Brown’s success as a passer in his senior campaign.

“My guys, [Brookins] and [Harvey], both of them are going to be big time weapons for me this season. I know that as long as I do my job, by getting the ball in there hands, it is going to be a scary site,” Brown said.

**Photo courtesy of Keith Warren, MHSAA

#JaredRedding #Starkville

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