Before heading to Ole Miss, St. Al’s Brown suits up for MAIS All-Star Game

Published 8:46 am Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ben Brown spent last weekend in Oxford, taking in the Egg Bowl on Saturday and then meeting with Ole Miss’ football coaches on Sunday. This time next year he might be in the huddle and in team meetings for the Rebels.

First, however, he’s got one last piece of business to attend to involving his high school football career.

Brown, St. Aloysius’ big senior offensive tackle, will play in the MAIS Football All-Star Game Friday at 2:30 p.m. at Jackson Prep. It’s the last time the four-year starter will put on a St. Al helmet before heading off to the college ranks. Brown has committed to Ole Miss and plans to sign with them in February.

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“I’m just excited, obviously, to compete. This is the best competition in the MAIS, and it’s a football game and I love playing football. The opportunity to play one more game as a high school player is great,” Brown said. “It doesn’t feel like I’m a St. Al player for this game, but I’ll definitely miss playing for the purple and gold. The school has given me a lot of support.”

Brown will suit up for the Blue team in the All-Star Game. He’s the third St. Al player to be selected for the game since the school joined the MAIS in 2015.

Other players from Vicksburg-area schools in this year’s game include Central Hinds quarterback Tanner Leggett for the Red and Tallulah Academy running back Ryan Hodge for the Blue team.

A pool of all-stars from all of the MAIS’ classifications were selected for the game, and then drafted onto either the Red or Blue teams by the game’s coaches.

It’s unknown where Brown was drafted, but he was likely high on the board for both sides. He’s been a starting tackle for the Flashes since the first game of his freshman season and only missed a handful over the ensuing four years.

Brown was part of an excellent offensive line early in his career that included current Southern Miss tackle Drake Dorbeck and Hinds Community College guard Josh Price, as well as his brother Bash — now a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy — and a number of other skilled players.

During Brown’s four years paving the way as a lead blocker, the Flashes had nine players rush for at least 800 yards in a season. Five of those went over the 1,000-yard mark and one had a 2,000-yard season.
Brown, when he was a sophomore, was also a starter on St. Al’s 2014 team that reached the MHSAA Class 1A championship game.

“It’s been an amazing four years. I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Brown said. “It’s definitely been an unforgettable and special last four years. I’ve been blessed to play for great coaches and with great players, and with my brother. I’m in a really great position and I’m blessed that God has given me the talent to get there.”

Brown wasn’t just a blocker for St. Al. He also had 114 total tackles and three sacks while playing defensive tackle, and scored a rushing touchdown as a fullback this season. That side of his game vanished when St. Al’s season ended, he joked.

“I think my days of playing defensive line are over with,” Brown laughed.

His career will instead continue on the offensive line after he signs with Ole Miss about two months from now. He’s got one more all-star game after this one — the USA Football Under-19 All-Star Game Jan. 28 in Orlando, Fla. — and he said he’s already looking forward to the next phase of his football life.

“I’m very much looking forward to that,” said Brown, who will become the third generation of his family to play football for Ole Miss. “To say I’ll be part of the Ole Miss family is huge. I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Friday, 2:30 p.m., at Jackson Prep
Admission: $10
Area all-stars: OL Ben Brown (St. Aloysius), QB Tanner Leggett (Central Hinds), RB Ryan Hodge (Tallulah Academy)

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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