Daily Chronicle Male Athlete of the Year: Dre Brown of DeKalb
DeKALB – Dre Brown wanted to make the most of his high school career.
He didn't want to just stick to football and be satisfied. The DeKalb junior wanted to do what he could during the winter and spring sports seasons, keep competing.
Brown starred as a running back for DeKalb's football team in the fall, helping the Barbs to the IHSA state playoffs for just the second time since 1989. He committed to play at the University of Illinois over the winter, and unlike a lot of Division I football prospects, he used his talents for other DeKalb sports as well.
During the winter, Brown was a starter on DeKalb's basketball team. When spring rolled around, Brown was out on the track as a member of the Barbs' state-qualifying 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams.
For these reasons, Brown is the Daily Chronicle's 2013-14 Athlete of the Year.
"I didn't know I was playing basketball until after football season," Brown said. "I was like, might as well, you only go through high school once so I decided to play basketball. I was a little rusty at first but I started getting back into it, since I hadn't played since eighth grade."
In the days where prep three-sport athletes seem to be dwindling, Brown is a rare breed of sorts. He said being active in athletics year-round made him a more well-rounded athlete. He mentions how basketball helps with is footwork. Plus, he was still able to lift during the mornings.
"I promote our kids to play as many sports as they can," Barbs football coach Matt Weckler said. "The high school experience lasts four years. You have the rest of your life to work, you have the rest of your life to do anything else after high school.
"If a kid wants to play a sport, we love it that he plays. The competition, the edge that you gain by competing on a weekly basis is a positive."
For the summer, Brown is focused on football. Since he's already committed to Illinois, he's done attending the various recruiting camps, but he'll be attending the Barbs' offseason activities.
As for what his plans are next year, that's still up in the air. He's contemplating the idea of graduating early after the fall semester – all he would have to do is take a couple of extra classes.
If he were to enroll at Illinois early – which Brown said will be a very tough decision, it will allow Brown to attend spring practice and get a leg up on the rest of the Illini freshmen.
"[The Illini coaches] were saying I might be able to come in and play a little bit if I work hard enough," Brown said. "So I might graduate early and enroll. Just show what I can do."
At the very least, DeKalb fans will be able to watch Brown compete on the football field for what should be a talented Barbs team in 2014.
"Individually, I basically just want to lead my team. I'm all for them and they're all for me," he said. "This is our last year together and it's crazy how fast it came. My senior class, they've been doing very well their whole four years. I think this is the year we do something big."