As he walked off the field for the final time as an Oscar Smith Tiger, Andrew Brown knew he'd be back to Scott Stadium. But playing at his future home was the "last" thing on his mind.
"It felt good, but to be honest I wasn't even thinking about that, to tell you the truth," Brown said after Saturday's VHSL 6A State Championship game. "I still got 'Smith' on my jersey. I play for them. I wouldn't play for anybody else tonight."
Brown and his teammates came into the game a perfect 14-0. Their opponent, Centrevile, was also undefeated. But it was the Wildcats who got the win, 35-6, and the trophy that came with it.
The 6-foot-4, 290-pounder showed flashes of the ability Cavalier fans hope to see plenty of in the future. He made five tackles, including two for loss, and forced a fumble. He finished the 2013 season with 98 tackles, 30 tackles for loss, 18 sacks, nine forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. And just last Wednesday, Brown was named Gatorade National Player of the Year.
So all this has many wondering: why Virginia?
Why a program that's gone 6-18 the last two seasons?
Brown's decision is based largely on his relationship with head coach Mike London. With speculation that London's job may be on the line after another losing season in 2013, Andrew Brown Senior recently reached out to Virginia Athletic Director Craig Littlepage to confirm London would be back in 2014.
"I was very confident coming out of that conversation with Mr. Littlepage," Brown Sr. said of the talk. "He basically just assured me that he's committed to Mike London just the same as my son is committed to Mike."
The Browns realize they're taking a chance the program will improve next season, and that London's future is unclear.
"No guarantees, but Mike London will be there "this" year. And that's all I needed to know," Brown Sr. added. "Just because of the sheer nature of who Mike is and what he's accomplished, as far as recruiting kids in this area, I wanted my son to stay home and play in the state of Virginia."
Brown will join safety Quin Blanding, a fellow five-star from Bayside High School, in what Brown Senior hopes is a 20-14 recruiting class that can bring Virginia "back" to prominence.
"I can't tell you what this means, I just know it's another chapter in my son's book. He's had a great high school career, now it's just time for him to go to the next level at UVa, and help be a part of taking this team to the next level."
The first step for Brown in taking that journey comes when he enrolls early at Virginia. He plans to be on grounds Jan. 9, so he can be with the team when they begin spring practices.