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July 15, 2011When it comes to competitiveness and work ethic, redshirt freshman Anthony Brown easily fits in with the top players on this Trojan roster.
Known for his toughness and relentless drive, Brown has been one of the first players in and last players out at the players' only throwing sessions and team conditioning drills.
Competing for a starting cornerback position, Brown understands the stakes, and is more than willing to put in the time to earn his shot come August.
"The summer workouts are going really well," Brown said Friday. "I improved dramatically in every area so I'm bigger and faster and stronger, and I thank God for that."
USCFootball.com recently spoke with wide receiver Robert Woods, one of the stars on the offensive side of the ball, and Woods specifically made mention of Brown and his progress over the last couple of months. He's clearly earned the respect of his teammates through his persistence.
"I'm a hard worker on the field and in the weight room," said Brown before adding, "so it's like, you put two-and-two together and that's what I'm doing. I'm getting the corners and everybody out here working hard. I'm giving the corners the smart details to be able to separate themselves from the other corners, so that's what I'm doing."
With the USC coaching staff informing Brown that a starting spot is open at cornerback, Brown is now shifting his attention to the areas of his game he feels he needs the most work.
"I have to work on my speed and I'm pretty confident in my speed now," Brown said of one of those areas. "Being patient at the line would probably be my thing during one-on-one's.
"Right now I'm competing for the starting spot so at the end of camp, the best man wins. So I'm just in focus right now."
If speed was a concern for Brown in the past, it isn't anymore. Brown has taken all comers who have challenged him to a race in the 40-yard dash. The redshirt freshman has now become the team's favorite race partner.
During Tuesday's player-organized throwing session, Brown raced wide receiver DeVon Flournoy, one of the team's fastest receivers, twice -- coming up victorious both times.
"It was just competition," Brown said of the race against Flournoy, "because I improved my speed a lot and right now I'm pretty confident in my speed. It was a good show, (with a lot of talking), and I beat him twice. That's it -- just competition."
So how did the race originate that would spark the offensive and defensive sides of the ball getting so involved?
"Everybody was saying he was faster than me," Brown said. "I'll probably have another race Thursday lined up."
Brown also took part in a race with fellow defensive back T.J. McDonald just a few weeks back, and while different results have been reported, Brown has no doubt that he ended up ahead.
"Yeah he's pretty fast but I beat him, too," Brown said of his race with McDonald. "I beat him the first time by a yard or two and the second time I didn't have a good kickoff so no excuses."
When asked about potential races in the future, Brown pointed out the player he called the team's fastest receiver, Brice Butler, as a potential target.
"Probably Brice," he said. "I'll probably end up racing Brice."
Documenting his improvement in speed, Brown's numbers during the Trojans' recent testing period took astronomical leaps from his freshman marks.
"My broad jump was a 10 [feet] and vert [vertical leap] was a 34.5 [inches]," Brown said of his testing numbers. "I improved, because my broad jump was a 9-2 and my vert was a 32. My forty was a 4.75 and I ran a 4.50, that was my average. I'm just getting better."
With the Class of 2011 recently added to the player throwing sessions, minus a few student-athletes still actively enrolled in summer school courses, Brown has gotten an opportunity to see the incoming group of defensive backs. He's impressed by their overall effort and capabilities.
"They're good players, they're learning, and it's a process when you get here -- everything is faster," Brown said. "It takes time to be the guy like you were in high school, so we're out here learning and getting them better each day.
"Ryan [Henderson] is pretty strong, but I've never seen Isaiah [Wiley]. But he's pretty fast," Brown said of the new cornerbacks. "I've seen [Isiah] in warm-ups and he's pretty fast . . . Isiah's got speed."
After finishing his redshirt year, Brown realizes now that every day matters. After taking advantage of some of the benefits that redshirting can offer, he is aiming for a starting cornerback spot.
"Last year I took a lot of mental reps and this year I've got to perform," Brown said of the upcoming season. "I've got to give the people what they want, the fans, so I'm just out here working hard.
"My goal is to be ready when my name is called. Whatever happens, happens."