The small town of Belle Glade, Florida is a breeding ground for great football talent. The list of great players at the collegiate and professional level that came from Glades Central high school is surprising based on the fact that Belle Glade is only about 4.7 square miles large.
The list includes names like Heisman Trophy runner-up and quarterback Brad Banks, Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin, Super Bowl MVP Santonio Homles, Pro Bowl running back Fred Taylor, Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, and former Ball State receiver Willie Snead.
In an interview a couple of years ago, Akron standout linebacker Jatavis Brown of Glades Central high school stated that there's nothing to do there except play football and chase rabbits.
Other than great football players, Belle Glade has a cane sugar mill of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative. So, when the cane fields are burned before the harvest, a lot of people enjoy chasing around the rabbits that are running away from the fire.
Now, did Brown and the other greats of Belle Glade get significantly better at football by doing this? Probably not. Perhaps they didn't do it that much. Either way, it wouldn't surprise me if this is how Jatavis Brown developed his skill for chasing down opposing offenses with apparent ease.
The former 3-star outside linebacker picked Akron over Georgia State and Marshall as his only FBS offers. He came in with the 2012 recruiting class, which had just seen Akron go 1-11 in two consecutive seasons while hiring a new head coach. It doesn't make much sense that a player like Brown didn't get more national attention. Not one single Power Five program offered him.
Brown stepped in mid way through the 2012 season to help out Akron's defense that gave up well north of 30 points per game. He made his only start of the season against the Ohio Bobcats despite playing in eleven. That was the game that Brown used to show everyone who he was, as he made five tackles including one for a loss. He ended his freshman season with 23 total tackles and a forced fumble.
The promising end to his freshman season led to an enormous sophomore season for Brown. The 2013 team that saw Akron win more than one game for the first time since 2009 was led by two stud linebackers, Justin March and Brown. Brown's 56 tackles in the final four games of 2013 to eventually be named first team All-MAC.
With a first team All-MAC selection under his belt, expectations were high for Brown as a junior in 2014. He was ultimately able to fulfill those expectations by leading Akron's impressive defense with 99 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, and four forced fumbles. He was one of the top contributors in Akron's win at Pittsburgh as well. Brown made 11 tackles in that game including a late sack to seal the upset for the Zips.
Once again, however, the expectations will be through the roof, as he Brown has been named preseason All-MAC by Phil Steele and Athlon Sports. Akron has the talent on defense to win a lot of games, and Brown is the clear leader of the entire unit. Jatavis Brown has played a key role in getting Akron to a point that a bowl game is well within reach. With all of that said, the NFL is well within reach for Brown, as CBS Sports lists Brown as the number 22 outside linebacker prospect for 2016.
Here are some of Brown's career highlights: