WELLINGTON, Fla. — It was another broken play for Wellington High School and the defense for intracity rival Palm Beach Central High School could all see where the pass was going. Palm Beach Central swarmed toward Mark-Antony Richards on the left sideline.
The throw never made it to the 4-star athlete. A deflection knocked the ball in the air and into a mass of bodies. Renato Brown sprung all the way from his spot at defensive tackle. Somehow, the defensive lineman came up raising to the ball in the air as teammates celebrated around him Monday in Wellington.
A few weeks ago, the 3-star Miami commit tweeted about the Hurricanes’ latest phenomenon.
I think I would look good in that chain https://t.co/EtA5Gc9Dfz
— Renato Brown (@Renato__59) September 24, 2017
The turnover chain has helped make Miami cooler than it has been in years. But after he helped Palm Beach Central beat Wellington, 34-20 on Monday, Brown needed someone to help jog his memory just a little bit. If he played for the Hurricanes, he was reminded, he would’ve gotten a sideline souvenir.
“Oh my God,” Brown said. “Oh my God! I would’ve had the chain!”
The interception, Brown’s first ever, highlighted an all-around dominant game for the junior in Wellington. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound started at left tackle and defensive tackle, and rarely came off the field during a rivalry game at Wellington High School. He is something of a project on either side of the ball and the Hurricanes have settled on trying to develop him as a defensive tackle.
Although Brown prefers playing defense, he first found his greatest success on offense. Brown earned first-team All-Area honors from The Palm Beach Post as an offensive lineman last fall when he played for Oxbridge Academy Foundation, Inc., in West Palm Beach, Fla. Most recruiting services still rank him as an offensive lineman — the 247Sports composite rankings, for example, peg him as the No. 51 offensive tackle in the Class of 2019.
Even the Hurricanes first recruited Brown as an offensive lineman until defensive coordinator Manny Diaz made a trip up to see Brown in person with his new school.
“At first, it was offense,” Brown told DieHards, “but Coach Diaz came down and he was like, ‘I’d love to have you on defense.'”
Brown is now playing both defensive tackle and defensive end for Palm Beach Central, while also starting at left tackle full time. There was only one offensive snap when Brown didn’t play left tackle Monday and on that snap he moved over to right tackle.
— David Wilson (@DBWilson2) October 2, 2017
Even there, Brown clearly has some flaws. He worked exclusively out of a two-point stance against Wellington and nearly all of Palm Beach Central’s designed runs go to the right side rather than behind Brown.
What’s most impressive, though, is the sheer number of snaps Brown played Monday. And after the game he didn’t even appear fatigued in the slightest.
“Conditioning’s always a big thing for a big guy like myself,” Brown said. “I’m always working on it.”
He’ll have plenty of time to work out some of his kinks before he arrives in Coral Gables, Fla., in a couple years — and Miami shouldn’t have much to worry about between now and then. Brown, who attended a practice during the spring and committed to the Hurricanes on Sept. 12, plans to be in Miami Gardens soon to catch a game at Hard Rock Stadium.
And even though there’s a long way to go until he can join the Hurricanes, he doesn’t see himself changing his mind. His practice visit left a strong impression and the coaching staff’s persistence during Hurricane Irma was enough to seal the deal.
“The atmosphere during practice — everyone’s up. The defense makes a play — everyone’s celebrating,” Brown said. “They’re just having fun. That’s what football’s all about.”
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