The Dr. Phillips football team has playmakers up and down its roster. From star seniors Deionte Gaines, Roderick Proctor and Davin Pierce all the way down to freshmen Dylan Meeks and Calvin Ashley.
But when you watch these 10-0 Panthers, there is one player who stands out among all of the other standouts. He’s not the biggest, not the fastest, but he’s the fire that fuels this team.
Marvin Brown is the epitome of Dr. Phillips football. He’s hard-nosed, gritty, undersized and overlooked, but he’ll beat you every time.
“I feel like I’m the spark. I’m a captain, so that’s what I have to do every Friday,” Brown said.
The 5-foot-9, 180-pound senior cornerback doesn’t jump out to college recruiters because of his size, but if Brown was measured by the size of his heart, he’d be a top prospect.
“It’s pretty tough sometimes, but that’s not really what’s important,” Brown said. “Getting to the state championship … winning the next game and the next game, that’s what is important to my team, so right now it’s all about me and my team.”
He’ll get his looks and fortunately for Brown he plays for one of the most high-profile football teams in Central Florida. If you are good and you go to Dr. Phillips, you will probably land a decent college football scholarship.
So Brown knows that will come. What’s disheartening is that his size will likely correlate directly to the size of school at which he ends up. Marvin Brown can play big-time football. Now, if only someone would take a shot.
“It’s what I want to do. I like to compete and I want to be the best at the next level, also,” Brown said.
Head coach Rodney Wells appreciates the energy that drives his senior leader.
“He is, without a doubt, the sparkplug of the team. When Marvin speaks, everybody listens,” said Wells. “He’s pound-for-pound the strongest guy on the team. He’s been corner, he’s been a safety, he’s played outside linebacker … he’s just all over the field for us.
“Two more inches, three more inches and he could go play at any school he wanted to go to, but he will still go to a good school and have a good career at the next level.”
The respect his teammates show him is downright genuine. They love the guy.
This past Friday night, during the Panthers’ 38-7 rout of Winter Park, Dr. Phillips found the end zone several times, but the reaction of the team when Brown scooped and scored and on a 24-yard fumble recovery late in the game was the pinnacle of the night’s achievements. His teammates mobbed him and the smiles were wide.
“First of all, Marvin Brown is the leader of the defense. His work ethic is amazing, so we all feed off of him,” said Pierce, a senior safety who is currently committed to Cincinnati. “We feed off his energy and he’s the one who gets us going.
“And it’s more than that. He’s a good student in school ... and like when coaches talk about being a good student-athlete, Marvin Brown is that person. He gets done what he has to in the classroom and he also brings that intensity to football. He works so hard and doesn’t get the respect he deserves. We feel like he should be one of the best defensive backs in the nation, but a lot of coaches overlook him just because of his size.”
With the state playoffs beginning this week — Dr. Phillips hosts Tampa Wharton on Friday — the focus has been tunneled to the task. He’ll worry about the recruiting part once the season has concluded.
The Panthers are 20-0 in back-to-back regular seasons, and 4-1 in the postseason. That one stands out.
“Based off last year, and losing to Apopka, this is a big step for us,” Brown said of the Panthers’ Class 8A semifinal loss to the eventual state champion. “Preseason is over, now we got five more to get.”
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting, Instagram at os_recruiting and on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.