JACKSON, Ga. -- A chance meeting in Columbus, Ga., two years ago wound up changing the future of Carver High School sophomore defensive end Mekhi Brown. The tall, slender youth had recently completed middle school when he ran into a future All-American in the hometown they both shared.
His father, Marcus Henderson, tells the story this way:
“Mehki has always been big for his age and ever since he was seven years old he has played basketball. He was bigger than everyone else so has played center or power forward. He was getting to a point where he thought basketball was going to be his thing. But then we ran into Jarvis Jones. Jarvis talked to him and he told Mehki, ‘Don’t just limit yourself to one sport.’ Jarvis was telling him how he used to hate football and that he was all about basketball -- until he saw he was getting more offers from football that basketball.”
Brown could easily relate to the local legend.
“It was the same way with Mekhi,” Henderson said. “Mekhi was getting letters from schools for basketball, but nothing concrete as far as offers go. With football he was able to go to college campuses and college camps. So that conversation right there turned him. Talking with Jarvis opened his eyes.”
As did the scholarship offers. Brown has yet to receive a basketball offer but he has football offers from Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Florida, Florida State, North Carolina and Duke with many more likely on the way.
“Basketball was his life,” Henderson said. “In the eighth grade he was the middle school MVP of Muscogee County. They went undefeated his last year there. But basketball is not his first love anymore. Before that conversation with Jarvis Jones, football was just something to do.”
Brown does it so well now that football has his full attention. He plays both defensive end and outside linebacker in Carver coach Dell McGee’s defense, just like Jones used to. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound defender has visited a number of schools including Clemson, Duke, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Auburn and Alabama.
The trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala., impressed Brown.
“I loved it,” Brown said. “I met Nick Saban and Kirby Smart. It was an unbelievable experience.”
Despite his enjoyable visit, Brown said he has no favorites yet. Neither does his father, who said he doesn’t care where Brown goes so long as his son gets a good education.
“I have never seen him have a favorite team as far as colleges go,” Henderson said. “Me? I am a Bama guy.”
All the early attention has not gone to Brown’s head.
“He understands that it is a blessing to have the size he has and the athletic ability he has,” Henderson said. “He knows it can be taken away from him if he takes it for granted. Mekhi is very humble and mature for his age.”