NFL Draft: Interview with Troy DT Shakel Brown

If you could take one look at defensive tackle Shakel Brown, you’d think he’d been in his position since he was little. However, his long-winding journey to the Draft is one of admirability and inspiration for others to achieve similar goals.

Brown wavered between basketball and football in high school until he strictly focused on football the spring going into his senior year. His junior year, he was more of a basketball player than with football. However, something about his size told him to switch from an NBA end goal to more of an NFL one. 

“I’d rather be a 6’4, tight end or defensive end instead of 6’4 small forward in the NBA. It makes more sense.” Brown said. “I was bigger, stronger, faster than the majority of everybody we played. So I had a dominating factor for me,”

Having a basketball background worked in Brown’s favor, utilizing the skills he learned from one sport to better play another before graduating.

“It definitely translated because I could jump pretty high. I was playing tight end back in high school, so it translated as far as that I could jump higher.” Brown said.

That’s where the fun began. He started out with Highland Community College out of high school, ended up transferring to Independence Community College. His final stop was Ittawamba Community College, where he eventually stayed before inevitably transferring to a Troy. 

“In my career at Troy, I had a great time at Troy, man. It was the best opportunity I could ever have. Coming out of Juco, that was really the top school that was giving me,” Brown said. “That really wanted to give me a chance. I had Coach Daven Williams, that’s who recruited me to come there. Me and him talked every day.”

Though other schools were interested in him, Coach Williams made Brown feel like he belonged. That sense of belonging translated well this past season, where Brown was proud of leaving it all out on the field.

“This past season, we had a great year. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world. We went 12 and two. We had an amazing season,” Brown said. “Probably the best season I’ve ever had in my career. Sun Belt Championship, bowl game win.”

During his time 29 games at Troy, Brown had 58 total tackles (20 solos), eight tackles for a 32-yard loss, 4.5 sacks for 26 yards, one pass deflected, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He also had one touchdown. 

But now, Brown has the opportunity to bring that same passion to an NFL team. Brown’s training is more mentally-focused. He’s keeping disciplined, something NFL teams will want to see out of their young draft picks.

“Well, mentally, just getting things together as far as knowing that I have to be a professional now. I’m not a college student anymore. It’s just the aspect of knowing that now it’s not… If I don’t go work out, I won’t have punishment for it now.” Brown said. “My punishment will be I won’t have a chance to go to the NFL. So mentally, I have to prepare my stuff every single day.”

Even though he’s holding himself to the high standard, his family is more than happy to see their “superstar” have a shot with the professional football league. Brown talked about how they would drive almost a day to see him play the game he loves.

“So I was the first one in the family to go to school. I was the first one in the family to do a lot of different things. My family is very excited, man. They already believe I’m a superstar,” Brown said. “Whether it’s the NFL, the USFL, the XFL, it really doesn’t matter to me as long as I get a chance to play at the high level that I could possibly get to.”

A lot of Brown’s unique skills aren’t something you’ll see on paper, you’ll find them in the locker room. On the field. In the weight room. 

“I feel like I’m a hard worker, man. I bring great energy to a locker room. I feel like the whole team is going to like me if anybody take a chance on me. I’m a funny guy. I never really have bad days where I come in and just don’t want to talk to anyone. I try to be the light of the team,” Brown said.

Having those skills is important, just ask some of the younger guys in the NFL. Micah Parsons is always putting in work. A.J. Brown can make his teammates laugh. Sauce Gardner brings the swag. Brock Purdy stepped up when needed especially in a big game. The younger guys of the NFL are coming up in the league, and Brown wants to be one of them.

“It just shows that, man, we’re like now coming into the league. The younger guys are NFL ready, man. They’re getting the proper training leading to the NFL draft prep and things like that,” Brown said. “I definitely feel like I could do something like that. So if I get a chance. I definitely show that I can do these things if given the opportunity.”

Bringing flare to his game, Brown looks to the “big guys” of the league for inspiration and drive to succeed.

“I love Malik Collins game plays for the Houston Texans right now. Malik Collins, Aaron Donald. I like my big boys too. Man. Got to go with Chris Jones. The bigger guys, the Forest Buckner, you got to go with the bigger guys,” Brown said. “They could do it all. Pass rush, they can run, stop. And that’s how I want to be. I want to be a Swiss Army knife.”

Thanks to the support of coaches sticking with him and family making sacrifices, Brown’s foundation can only propel to a career in the NFL. Should he get the call, he’s going to be a dominant force for any team lucky to snag him. For now, his advice for fellow prospects or future NFL hopefuls is to relax.

“So whenever I’m not watching film or whenever I’m not doing anything football related, I try to relax and get my mind off of things and try to try to engage into other things.” Brown said. “So sometimes you have to step away from the game, within the game. And it sounds crazy, but I’m still focused. But I just can’t mentally just think about only that all day long or you would get depressed and you will just be thinking about that play that you messed up,”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: