When Blackman standout offensive lineman Micheal Brown and his family moved from Gordonsville to Murfreesboro four years ago, they had no idea what a tremendous blessing it would be to land in the Blackman school district.
Over his high school football career, Brown has gone from joining the Blackman Varsity squad as a freshman for the 2015 playoff run to becoming a starter in his sophomore year, to earning All-Region honors as a junior last season.
At 6'0", 270 lbs., the senior left tackle is about four inches shorter than the average NCAA FBS-level stature for offensive linemen.
But that doesn’t mean he won’t play college football somewhere next season. He's in talks with Centre College in Kentucky and Sewanee just an hour out I-24 East. Brown also recently received a handwritten letter from Yale's head coach expressing interest.
One word consistently comes up in conversation about Brown—committed. His father Jeff says of the younger Brown, “I’m proud of how serious he takes it. He treats football like a job, getting to the facility an hour before school every morning to watch game film.”
It’s pretty obvious that Brown inherited that kind of commitment from his parents. His father Jeff is a sergeant with the Metro Nashville Police department. His mother Crystal is a program staple who cooks breakfast for the team every Friday morning and runs the merchandise stand affectionately known as "The Barn" during Blackman home games.
Considering her current circumstances, Crystal is as committed as they come.
In December 2016, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Throughout her continued struggle with the disease, she refuses to miss anything. “I can’t imagine not being here (around the program).”
“Don't you take away my barn," Crystal recalls telling the President of the Blackman booster club upon his first visit to the hospital following her first major surgery in 2017.
Early this spring, she was getting ready for her final radiation treatment thinking she had all but beaten the dreaded c-word when she found out that she'd had a recurrence.
"We found out on the way to the Blue & White Game (Blackman Spring Game).”
Since the recurrence, the family of five has been overwhelmed by love and support from the Blackman community. “The Lord knew what he was doing when he placed us here” recalls Crystal. “I’m glad my kids can see how awesome this whole Blackman community and program is.”
Friends, family, and even the Blackman football coaches have taken part in her Meal Train program, signing up to bring food for the family over the past few months while Crystal deals with multiple rounds of chemo and radiation.
Their faith family at World Outreach Church has brought food, handmade quilts, and money as well. Jeff says, "We keep three refrigerators full of food because people are always bringing food to eat."
Crystal says of the outpouring of love, “There’s somebody out there that’s fighting this way worse than me. It’s amazing just to see there are awesome people out there that care about us.”
Through the chemo and radiation, she remains undaunted if often exhausted. Crystal is determined to be there for every scrimmage, which now includes her middle son Matthew on the ninth-grade football team.
"I'm not missing him playing," she recently told the ninth-grade coach when he was amazed to see her at a scrimmage the day after chemo treatment.
As far as Micheal is concerned, his football focus is on playing state championship-level football. "My only goal is to play (in the state championship game) on December 5."
Blackman team chaplain Dusty Hutchins says, "We lean on Micheal. He's quiet, but we know we can count on him." He continues, "Even against the big kids that get pretty big offers, he's on top of them at the end of the play." Hutchins says Brown is one of the top five offensive linemen to ever play at Blackman.
Brown plans to major in accounting wherever he lands next fall. In fact, his goal is to go straight for his master’s degree. With a 3.54 GPA, this young man has shown his commitment in the classroom as much as he has on the football field.
He has some dreams off the field as well. Huge Notre Dame fans, Jeff and Micheal list going to a game at South Bend as one of Micheal’s "Senior Bucket List" items. His hope is to get there this year, even if they have to drive all night following a Blackman game because Micheal plans on playing every Saturday next fall.
No matter which day Micheal plays on this year or next, you can bet Jeff and Crystal will be there regardless of the circumstances.
You can also give to help with the Brown's ongoing costs through their GoFundMe page.
Joel A. Barker is a sports writing preacher. Joel was a longtime Featured Columnist covering College Football for The Bleacher Report before beginning his pursuit in pastoral ministry studies. Follow Joel on Twitter @joelabarker.