Dudley E. Dawson is a reporter for Hawgs Illustrated. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Diffie sees Brown in same mold as Catalon
One of Carl Diffee’s former players is set to be the starting quarterback at Arkansas this year while a current one is taking an official visit to check out the Razorbacks this weekend.
Milan (Tenn.) High School defensive back Anthony “Ant” Brown (6-2, 195) is one of several prospects set to be in Fayetteville as the NCAA finally allows on-campus recruiting after over a year of not doing so.
Brown had 55 tackles, 11 tackles for lost yardage, 1 sack and 2 interceptions last season. He also recorded 942 yards rushing, 329 receiving, 242 yards passing and had a hand in 25 touchdowns on offense.
“He is a phenomenal athlete and reminds me a lot of the (Jalen) Catalon kid that already plays at Arkansas,” Diffee said. “He is that kind of player. He is a defensive back, but he is really an athletic safety that will come down and hit you. He is also just really good in space.”
Diffee coached expected Arkansas starting quarterback KJ Jefferson at Sardis (Miss.) North Panola before moving on to Milan.
Jefferson completed 18 of 33 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score in a 50-48 loss at Missouri last season when he replaced injured starter Feleipe Franks.
“I’ve talked to KJ and he loves it at Arkansas, he loves the new staff,” Diffee said. “I haven’t talked to too many people on the staff, but I have talked to the defensive backs coach (Sam Carter) about Ant and I’ve talked to Coach Pittman a good bit.
“Both of those guys just seem like blue-collar mentality guys and that is what I like. Coach Pittman is a player’s coach from all I can tell and I like that in a coach.”
Diffee believes Jefferson is ready for the big stage.
“I think KJ has grown up a lot in his time there at Arkansas and I think sitting there behind Feleipe Franks and getting a chance to watch him was one of the best things that ever happened to him,” Diffee said. “When he was given the opportunity in that Missouri game, everybody saw what I knew he was capable of doing.
“Now hopefully he can do that against better competition such as the Alabamas and Auburns of the world. One of the biggest things he says he has been working on is his consistency. I think that’s big and I definitely agree with that.
“I think Coach (Kendal) Briles is going to get him there and he is going to take full advantage of the opportunity.”
Jefferson has done his best to let Brown know about Arkansas' program.
“He is very happy about being at Arkansas," he said, "and has talked it up a lot to Ant and believes it might be a great place for him also.”
Brown is also being recruited by Memphis, Oregon, Indiana and Miami.
“I think he has a a few more set up,” Diffee said. “He is going to go visit Memphis, which is right down the road and have done a great job recruiting him, and I have another kid playing there.
“Indiana has been on him since the early stages. Oregon has done a good job, but I don’t think they are in play right now. And he has kind of taking a liking to the University of Miami.”
Diffee’s first Milan squad went 14-2 and lost in the state championship game. The program appears set to have another banner season.
“I can’t imagine two years of not being able to see a college campus and everything like that and I know he is excited about it,” Diffee said. “Hopefully things are getting back to normal.”
Brown and linebacker AJ Barham (6-3, 225) head up Milan’s returnees.
“We have about eight starters on back on defense, including Anthony and a linebacker that are both 4-stars,” Diffee said. “We return our entire defensive line and just lose one corner, one linebacker and one safety. That side of the ball should be really good.
“On offense, we have our quarterback back, three linemen and two wide receivers, so six back on offense. We think we have a good squad and think we have a chance to do some really special things again.”
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