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Brown surprised almost everyone by turning away from LSU and joining Southern Miss and coach Larry Fedora’s spread offense. He then had a breakout freshman season like everyone expected, catching 67 passes for 1,117 yards and 12 touchdowns. But then he broke his leg at the New Orleans Bowl.

Doctors warned that Brown was so tall he might not ever heal properly and it cost him a big chunk of 2009. Even though he was back on the field after sitting out the first game, the pain and lack of endurance limited him until November.

He helped the Golden Eagles make a run at the Conference USA title game and clinch a bowl, finishing with 785 yards and nine touchdowns to lead the team. Along the way he’s made a highlight reel of crazy catches as he dominates much shorter cornerbacks and safeties. They stand out on game tape.

“He’s made big plays on a lot of teams,” Johnson said.

Brown participated in the offseason training program for the first time in college, and says he feels stronger than ever. Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora has seen signs of that.

“He continues to improve each and every day,” Fedora said. “He makes plays here and there that make us go, ‘Wow.’ I think our expectation level for him is high and so the standards are very high. We expect the most day in and day out for him, and I know that’s a difficult thing for a young man. But if we don’t expect those things from him they’ll never happen.”

Brown is sure they’re going to happen _ whether this year or next, it doesn’t matter. He thinks he could be one of the best, with just a little more effort.

“I feel like I would be there with the elite, the Randy Mosses, the Terrell Owenses, Calvin Johnsons, Brandon Marshalls, just being the next big receiver,” he said. “Those guys have made a name for themselves and I’ve watched tape on them as much as I’ve watched tape on myself just to try to take some of the things that they have in their game today and try to put it in my game.”


AP sports writer Pete Iacobelli in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this report.