Never in his wildest dreams could Fred Brown have imagined that he would one day grace the cover of Sports Illustrated.
But that is exactly what happened to the Mississippi State wide receiver last October when he and teammate Jamoral Graham were featured on the “Mississippi Mayhem” cover, which was also a first for any Bulldog student-athlete. Brown and Graham are shown celebrating in the end zone after his 51-yard touchdown catch against Texas A&M.
“It was a dream come true and I’m very proud of myself with how far I’ve come,” Brown said. “I have to give all the thanks to God.”
Brown wasn’t even aware that Sports Illustrated had chosen that photo until fans began to tag him on Twitter after the announcement was made.
Brown’s parents Ronnie and Janie own over 10 copies of the issue and have one framed in their home. Friends and family members have had him sign copies when he is back home in Jackson.
It has been a long journey for the fourth-year junior. Brown was ejected from his first collegiate game against Alcorn State in 2013 for receiving two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, one of which he spiked a football after making his first catch.
These days the 6-foot-1, 196-pounder can be found in the starting lineup for the Bulldogs.
“I’ve grown up,” Brown said. “College ball is way different from where I grew up playing a Jim Hill. I hardly knew the game of football when I came here to Mississippi State but a couple of guys here taught me the Bulldog way of relentless effort. I kept pushing every day to get better and that led me to a starting position.”
Brown made his third career start last weekend against Southern Miss making two catches for 14 yards. He has now appeared in 22 games for MSU, hauling in 25 passes for 387 yards and two touchdowns.
Brown is a former three-star high school prospect that also had offers from Memphis and Ole Miss. After looking back on his college decision, he is glad he chose the Bulldogs because of their stability.
“Coming to Mississippi State was probably one of the best choices I could’ve made,” Brown said. “All of the other offers I had, all of them have changed coaches. I’m glad I came to Mississippi State. Coach (Dan) Mullen offered me the scholarship and I committed later on that summer. I trusted in the system and it’s brought me this far.”