I promise we'll move on to the 2010 recruiting class soon -- maybe even by the end of this column -- but before we do, it's only fair that the 2009 class' top prospect gets a chance to speak his mind. Bryce Brown, the highly touted tailback who signed with Tennessee on Monday, and trainer/handler Brian Butler have been ripped in every form of media imaginable these past few months, including in this space. Brown's controversial recruitment has prompted an NCAA investigation and hurt feelings from Miami to Wichita, Kan. (Brown's hometown). But there are at least two sides to every story, and Brown deserves a chance to speak his piece.
So here is the full transcript of my interview with Brown from Monday, offered without comment.
AS: What put Tennessee over the top?
BB: "I don't think it was anything about any school that put it over the top. I could have made any decision, and it could have been a great decision. But in the end, I relied on God to put me in a place where he felt I needed to be. Obviously, that was Tennessee. He put it on my heart. He put it on my family's heart. He put it on my pastor's heart. In the end, we were all on the same page."
AS: Your father told Rivals.com that if he could change one thing about your recruitment, he would go back to last year and tell you not to commit to Miami. Would you agree?
BB: "I understand that. This is a big business. I understand they're looking out for their backs. But I wouldn't change anything. At the time, with everything that was going on, I felt like that was the place for me to be. My brother [Hurricanes linebacker Arthur Brown] was there, and thinking about playing with him was a great opportunity. It's something we've always done. But as the season went on, I saw things that weren't exposed to me at first. So I felt like I needed to look at other offers just in case. That's what I did. I prayed about it, came up with a plan and followed it."
AS: You said during your announcement that your father often played peacemaker between you and your mother during your recruiting discussions. How heated did those discussions get?
BB: "I wouldn't say it was heated. It wasn't calm thoughts, though. But I have a good relationship with my mom, my dad and my brother. It ain't like we were yelling back and forth, throwing things. I don't even think it was me. It was more the media stuff and the stuff that was coming out. With her knowing the truth and knowing how I am, she hated to see my name get slandered like that."
AS: You were ripped in the media more than perhaps any recruit in history. How difficult was that?
BB: "It wasn't hard for me at all. In the end, I'm not going to have to pay for any of this. Whoever did it can take it up with God. I know I'm on the winning team. Everything that happened, I think it happened for a reason. God chose me to go through this. He set all this stuff in place for a reason. I think I can help other recruits out. I came up with some goals and plans for the future. I plan on holding seminars where I can talk to recruits and help them make spiritual decisions."
AS: How much did Brian Butler help you?
BB: "He helped a lot. He's taken a hard, heavy hit on this as well. But like I said, God put this in place. This could have happened to anybody, but he picked us two. Brian's been there 100 percent. Without him, none of this would be possible."
AS: What is it about Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin that makes players want to play for him?
BB: "Him and the coaching staff are passionate. They believe, and they have confidence in what they're doing. It's a system that works. It's a system that has worked. They have the stats and the facts and all that stuff to prove it. They're not just talking. They will tell you, and if you want to see it, they will show you visually. That's what it was for me. Players don't want to talk about it. Players want to see it."
I promised you a tidbit from the class of 2010, and you will not be disappointed.
At a seven-on-seven tournament in Tampa, Fla., this past weekend, the entire placed buzzed about Treasure Coast (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) linebacker Jeff Luc. Luc is a 6-foot-1, 240-pound wrecking ball who, if football doesn't work out, has a bright future modeling Under Armour. He doesn't look like any high-schooler I've ever seen, and NFL players Michael Pittman and Jevon Kearse are the only other humans I've seen with such freakish proportions.
But Luc, whose name is pronounced "Luke" in Creole -- his ancestry is Hatian -- or "Luck" in English, does more than pass the eyeball test. Every time I asked a coach or a professional recruitnik about Luc, I got the same response: Have you seen the tape?
I have, and so can you.
Luc has received offers from all over (Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, USC, among others) and more are probably on the way. He said Saturday that he's open to any school, so click on the above YouTube clip again and imagine Luc as a member of your favorite team's defense.