The Corey Brown Show, a hit locally, will go statewide this week when the linebacker from Morningside High makes his last appearance as a high school football player in the 36th annual Shrine Football Classic at the Rose Bowl.
Brown, who will report to the University of Washington in a few weeks, is one of several high school All-Americans on the Southern California team that will play the Northern California all-stars at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Brown is also one of the most voluble and irrepressible. At a press luncheon for both teams he was introduced as the "Mouth of the South" and turned up the heat by announcing: "We are out-weighed but we're a lot quicker. Good luck to the North team--you're gonna need it. Y'all got a long trip home."
That brought cheers and handshakes from South teammates and had North players shouting, "Hey, what's your number?" Brown figures to be a popular player Saturday--or at least one sought out by North offensive linemen and running backs. That's fine with Brown, who said, "I like being around the ball."
Since the North has some big players--led by USC recruit Michael Moody, a 6-7, 270-pound lineman from San Francisco--it's hard to imagine Brown ever feeling outweighed.
A husky 6-2, Brown said he likes to play at 225 to 230 pounds. He probably weighs a little more now. Brown said he was not allowed to play in Pop Warner leagues because he was too big, and he had to play with older boys in youth leagues because he was so much bigger than boys his age. As a ninth-grader he played basketball before he turned to football full time. "I got too big for basketball," he said. "I got stockier."
Brown has been lifting weights for several years but said he suddenly began developing heavy muscles last year. "I've never really been this big till last summer," he said.
Brown and his cohorts on defense will be somewhat restricted by rules introduced to open up the offenses--only four-man rushes, no stunting on the line, no blitzes. The coaches say the defenses will be "vanilla."
But Brown said they'll be hitting just the same. He said his selection as one of five South Bay players on the team was "a dream come true. When I was in 11th grade my friend Rocen Keeton (Serra High) played in it. I said to myself, 'I want to play in this game.' It (the selection) was announced while I was in civics class. It came over the loudspeaker. I went to Coach (Ron) Tatum and told him--I was all smiles.
"I'm gonna play my hardest for the South to beat the North."
Away from the field, the Corey Brown Show has another side. Brown, sporting a New Wave haircut and trimmed goatee, is a thoughtful teen-ager who has written poetry and canceled several recruiting trips because "I got tired of hearing I was the greatest thing since cotton candy."
Brown said he was ready to attend USC but chose Washington because he wanted to get away from Los Angeles: "It's too congested. Washington is clean."
But Brown, who helped re-establish Morningside's football program, was quick to defend his alma mater, which is in an Inglewood neighborhood that makes more news with its drug and gang problems than with its athletic heroics.
"The reputation of Morningside is a reputation from the past," he said. "The majority (of students) are clean. The guys are getting into athletics. I always had football to take my aggression out. I've never been into that Bloods-Crips (gang) stuff. I didn't have enough time to be in gangs. It was practice, lift weights, go home and sleep."
He claimed the school's reputation made it tougher to compete, though Brown, at fullback and sometimes offensive line as well as linebacker, led the Monarchs to a Pioneer League title. Brown was an all-CIF linebacker as a junior and senior as well as Pioneer League most valuable player and a Cal Hi Sports All-American last season.
"We had to prove we could play football," he said. "The reputation of just being maniacs out there trying to kill somebody wasn't true. We wanted to prove we had the best defense in the South Bay. I think we did. It wasn't just me--we all came together on defense. Offensively we struggled a little but we could all express ourselves hitting somebody. We never got anything from the referees. We had to take everything we got."
Brown was heavily recruited and visited Arizona State, Washington and USC before canceling visits to UCLA and Oklahoma. He said the recruiting was "OK at first, then I got tired of the letters. I quit opening them. They (recruiters) tell you what you want to hear. You have to read through it."
Brown decided on Washington because he liked Seattle and the school's engineering program, his anticipated major. He has spent the summer doing construction work, running and lifting weights with Banning's Terrance Powe, who will be a lineman in the Shrine game and will join Brown at Washington.
Washington opens Sept. 5 against Stanford, so it won't be long before the Mouth of the South goes coastal. He could be a long-running hit.
Other South Bay players in the Shrine game are Banning linemen Powe, a 6-4, 260-pound Parade All-American, and Tyrone Rodgers, 6-4, 240, who made several All-American teams; Carson center Tommy Luapo, a 6-2, 240-pounder headed to New Mexico, and South Torrance lineman Brian Kelly, a 6-5, 250-pound consensus All-American headed to UCLA.
The South's backfield features Leonard (Eight Ball) Russell of Long Beach Poly, Eric Bieniemy of Bishop Amat and George Hemingway of Colton. The quarterbacks are Jim Bonds of Hart and Ken Sollom of Canyon, who totaled about 5,000 passing yards as seniors.
The South defense includes Long Beach Poly back Eugene Burkhalter, another Washington recruit considered by many the top secondary prospect in the state.
Game organizers said the teams are the tallest and heaviest--averaging 6-2, 218--in Shrine history and also have the highest grade point average at 3.1.