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A Salute to the 2020 Alabama Seniors: Deonte Brown

The man they call “Cornbread” was a key component to the Crimson Tide offenses the last three seasons.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Ohio State vs Alabama
How can you hate a 350-pound guy nicknamed “Cornbread”?
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Crimson Tide team had so many stars on the 2020, it is unfortunate that Deonte Brown went so under the radar. Despite the lack of hype, the 350-pound man they call “Cornbread” was a vital cog in the Saban Murder-Machine that mowed over the rest of college football.

Brown was a 4-star prospect out of little Austin High in Decatur, AL who arrived on campus already all of 350 pounds and allegedly more. WAY more. The struggle for him would be to keep that weight at arounf 350 and transform that mass into good weight.

After redshirting his first year, Brown played in all 14 of the Crimson Tide’s games in 2017, mostly blocking for the field goal and extra-point attempts. It is his redshirt sophomore season that would be a transformative one for him.

In 2018, Brown pulled off one of the rarest feats of the Nick Saban era: unseating an offensive line returning starter during the season. Lester Cotton started the first seven games at left guard but struggled. Many reports had said that Cornbread was highly impressive in practices which led to him making his first career start against the Tennessee Volunteers, a game which the Tide won 58-21 with 545 yards of offense.

He would remain the starter at left guard through the Tide’s November gauntlet of #4 LSU, #16 Mississippi State, Auburn, and then #4 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. However, he befell the misfortune of a suspension that caused him to sit out the playoff games against Oklahoma and Clemson. There has never been an official explanation for the suspension.

Brown’s suspension rolled over to the first four games of the 2019 season. Fortunately for Alabama, those opponents were Duke, New Mexico State, South Carolina, and Southern Miss. He was back for Game 5 against Ole Miss where he would win back a starting role at right guard. His return was was a key to bringing the whole line together. In his absence, Landon Dickerson played guard and Chris Owens manned center. However, Brown’s reinstatement prompted Dickerson to slide over to center and send Owens to the bench. The offensive line ranked third in the country that season, allowing just 0.92 sacks a game with just 12 sacks on 406 pass attempts. The Crimson Tide was second in the country in scoring (47.2 points per game), third in passing (324.2 yards) and sixth in total offense (510.8 yards).

Watch how Brown handled the seventh pick of the 2020 NFL Draft:

In 2020, it would all come together with Alex Leatherwood-Deonte Brown-Landon Dickerson-Emil Ekiyor-Evan Neal lineup that would dominate opponents. The Tide offense was the Power 5’s No. 1 scoring offense (48.5 ppg), No. 1 pass efficiency offense (198.9), No. 2 passing offense (358.2 ypg), No. 2 total offense (541.6 ypg) and No. 23 rushing attack (183.5 ypg).

The offensive line won the 2020 Joe Moore Award. As a senior, Brown missed only two assignments and committed four penalties while allowing half of a sack, one quarterback pressure and five quarterback hurries. He would earn first team All-SEC honors from the coaches and was named a second team All-SEC honoree by the Associated Press.

In his Crimson Tide career, Brown played in 48 career games with 26 starts and was rewarded with two National Championship rings.

“What sticks out most about Deonte Brown for me is when he pulls and he’s one-on-one with whoever’s coming that he’s pulling against,” said Alabama tailback Najee Harris. “It’s not a good sight for that. Me just seeing him making those plays, that’s really what sticks out.”

With degree in hand, he now turns his attention to the 2021 NFL Draft. Ol’ number 65 had one more honor coming his way with an invitatin to participate in the Senior Bowl in January with hopes of catching the eyes of pro scouts. Some mock drafts have him selected in the back end of Round 2 while others see him picked in the third round.