Alcorn coach gets hall of fame induction

Published 9:56 am Friday, September 4, 2015

Miraculous Powers will step on the field tonight in his final rivalry game against the Vicksburg Gators. Since he was a child, he’s had a close-knight relationship with his grandfather, Ocie Brown Sr., who is one of the main reasons he started playing football.

Brown was a beloved running backs coach and offensive coordinator at Alcorn State University from 1972 to 1998. He coached Braves greats such as Steve McNair, Perry Quails, Gregory Jones and Augusta Lee.

“He’ll always tell me don’t never give up on your dreams. He inspired me to play football or anything I wanted to do,” Powers said.

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In Brown’s 26 years on the coaching staff he, — alongside the “Godfather of the SWAC” Marino Casem and Cardell Jones — helped record 17 winning seasons, win seven Southwestern Athletic Conference championships and two National Black College Championships.

One of the earliest things Brown taught his grandson was how to catch a ball. He told Powers to always keep his eyes on the ball, catch it with his eyes and tuck with his hands. In just over two varsity seasons, Powers has caught 23 passes for 440 yards and seven touchdowns for Warren Central.

The words of his grandfather still echo in his mind during a game or practice.

“It’s like a flashback. When the coaches tell me what to do, it reminds me of what my grandfather said. It makes me want to play even harder,” Powers said.

Profile of Ocie Brown Sr, who will be posthumously inducted into Alcorn's Sports Hall of Fame Sept 18.

Profile of Ocie Brown Sr, who will be posthumously inducted into Alcorn’s Sports Hall of Fame Sept 18.

Brown will be posthumously inducted into the Alcorn State University Sports Hall of Fame Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Vicksburg Convention Center. He died in 2012 at the age of 74.

If it wasn’t for Brown taking initiative of his free time as a child, his career might not have happened. His wife Artis said at a young age, Brown hid the fact he was playing football from his mother.

“He used to sneak home, change his clothes and everything. She never knew he played football until the end,” Artis said.

Brown sustained an injury, which revealed his secret activity.

“He got his collarbone broken and had to go to the doctor. He told me and I was so tickled,” Artis said.

Before his coaching days at Alcorn, Brown had an historic playing career in Alabama for Miles College in Birmingham, outside his hometown of Bessemer, from 1956-60. He also coached track and field there from 1968-71. Brown was inducted into Miles’ Hall of Fame in 1986.

Brown went from Miles to Alcorn and worked for the university until 2008, a decade after he’d stepped away from football. In addition to his work with the football program, he served as Alcorn’s men’s golf coach.

During his tenure at Alcorn, Brown was surrounded by admiration from the students, faculty, staff and players.

“He loved the game of football and he loved his players,” Artis said.

Her husband was kind, gentle, and 100 percent serious about his job. However, they rarely talked about football.

“He didn’t bring the game of football home; he just didn’t discuss it with me. I don’t know too much about it so everything was left on the field.”

She was excited to find out about the announcement after her son, Ocie Brown Jr., pushed to have him inducted.

“I just wrote a letter saying ‘There’s no way my dad shouldn’t be in the hall of fame when he was the right hand man to the Godfather of the SWAC,’” said the younger Brown. “He needed that recognition.”

A month later he received a call about the induction.

It’s evident he admires his father for the man he was.

“I was the son that went with him everywhere he went,” the younger Brown said. “My daddy was a great person. Everyone loved him, I never heard anyone say anything negative about my father. I was his biggest fan.”

When the duo weren’t involved on the gridiron, fishing and eating crawfish surrounded their time.

The younger Brown described his father’s coaching style as complex.

“He’s a perfectionist. If you don’t go full speed he’ll run it against till it was right. Success, getting respect from players and the work ethic made him a hall of fame coach.”

The younger Brown always wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father and is doing so.

The elder Brown won his first championship at 24 years old; the younger won his first at 25. His father was an offensive coordinator; the younger Brown was the offensive coordinator at Port Gibson High School for eight years. His father would even sit in on practices run by his son.

Their last conversation was before a Port Gibson High School jamboree.

The younger Brown went to see his father in the hospital; he put his hand on his chest and told him he was going to get the win for his dad.

On his way to the jamboree, he received a phone call saying his father had passed and returned to be with his family. His team all signed a game ball for their greiving coach.

“I think it’s well deserved and no doubt in my mind he’s supposed to be in the hall of fame,” Brown Jr. said. “The legacy continues.”