LARAMIE, Wyo. -- When De'Vaughn Brown was being recruited by a Mountain West school, the recruiter told Ygnacio Valley (California) head coach Clyde Byrd that he felt Brown would become an NFL-level player.
"Now I'm not going to go out and say he has pro potential," Byrd said of Brown, who signed with Wyoming in December. "I think he does, but knowing the kind of worker he is and knowing what's getting ready to take place for him with Wyoming, I think the sky's the limit with the kid."
Byrd has room to talk. Byrd coached future Atlanta Falcon Takkarist McKinley at Kennedy High School. He also was an assistant at McClymonds High School when future Kansas City Chief Marcus Peters played there, and his son Thomas started at center for Boise State from 2007-11.
"So I've been around some tremendous athletes," Byrd said. "And, middle of the season, I told De'Vaughn he was every bit as good as those cats."
Brown didn't take the comparisons lightly.
"He's not one of those kids that gets big-headed over stuff," Byrd told the Casper Star-Tribune. "He just kept working and wanted to see. Now, of course, it's De'Vaughn Brown, so he had 1,000 questions. Well, 'Why do you see me on that level?' 'And what was the difference between me and Takk?' Because that's who I really compared him to.
"And I was telling him, 'You're built similar.' Takk was faster, but he had more football knowledge than Takk did at the same age, at the same period of time. So, it was very interesting to hear questions that he came to me with. Because he wanted to know exactly what I saw in evaluations to compare him with Takkarist McKinley."
Brown only played at Ygnacio Valley for his senior season, but he left a mark. He wound up being a first-team all-league player and received MVP consideration, Byrd said. Brown played tight end, receiver, defensive end and linebacker, but plans to play defensive end at Wyoming.
He was primarily recruited by defensive ends coach AJ Cooper. Brown also had offers from Fresno State, San Jose State and Portland State.
"Really, Wyoming, it just felt like the difference between them and all the other schools, I just felt the love right away," Brown said. "I felt welcomed, and the coaches, they seemed like, besides them knowing what they're talking about on the football field, they genuinely care about us as people. So that's really what brought me here."
Cooper, who Byrd said echoed the sentiment from the unnamed Mountain West school's recruiter, made a home visit to Brown even though his commitment to Wyoming is already in ink.
"That really just proves what I'm saying is right," Brown said. "They really care about us. ... My mom was just like, 'That just means that they care. Because they wouldn't be putting forth that much effort into one person (if they didn't).'"
Brown received his offer from Wyoming when visiting in mid-December. He didn't announce his commitment until Early Signing Day, when he was one of 20 Cowboys to sign, but he said he had made his decision sooner than that.
"To be completely honest, I, in my head and my family, I think we just about committed once we saw how down-to-earth they were as people," Brown said. "So when I was leaving my visit, I told (head coach Craig) Bohl and coach Coop face to face that I wanted to commit, but I wanted the media to not be involved yet until signing day, so that's why I released it on signing day."
Brown, listed at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, expects to put on some more weight to prepare for the defensive end position. Another good sign for Brown's future? He has plenty of room, and time, to grow.
"The vision that Wyoming has for De'Vaughn is outstanding," Byrd said. "They're talking about adding some weight to him. What people don't understand is De'Vaughn just turned 17. He's still young. So, he's still growing.
"They're going to put him on their workout. I could see him at 6-4, 6-5, 250, 260. And working with coach Cooper on the D-line, the sky's the limit."
Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com