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John Hardin senior Domonick Brown imagined this day countless of times, but when it finally arrived, the emotion of it still swept him off his feet.
Brown, a 6-foot, 240-pound linebacker, capped a magical high school career when he signed a national letter of intent to play at Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday morning in front of family and friends.
“I’ve been picturing this day in my mind since I was in middle school,” Brown said. “It’s been overwhelming. I’m happy, excited and nervous all at the same time. This is definitely a dream come true.
“I always wanted to play college football,” he added. “It’s an honor to get that chance. It’s something that many people can’t do. It’s amazing and it’s something I won’t take for granted.”
Brown gave a verbal commitment to Eastern Kentucky in the fall and he stayed loyal to the Colonels even though schools like Louisville and Western Kentucky made a push in the final two months.
“I went there as a junior and I really liked it,” Brown said. “I took several other visits and my official visit was awesome. I was driving around the campus and I kept thinking ‘I can’t wait to get here.’ I had such a positive feeling.”
Eastern Kentucky, which finished 8-3 last season, began recruiting Brown early in his stellar career, which saw him become John Hardin’s all-time leading tackler.
“That played a lot into my decision,” Brown said. “I had a couple of schools come in at the last minute, but they were with me the whole time. That showed they really wanted me and it showed me they were loyal as well.”
Eastern Kentucky signed 17 players Wednesday with the focus being on defense. The class includes six defensive linemen, two linebackers and two defensive backs.
“We did a good job of getting guys in every spot that we lost (from 2012),” Eastern Kentucky coach Dean Hood said. “For the second year in a row, I thought we were outstanding in recruiting the Commonwealth – from east to west. We also needed a huge defensive line class because of the production we will lose at that position following the 2013 season.”
Former John Hardin coach Mark Brown called Brown is one of the best linebackers he’s ever coached. He said Brown is the complete package.
“I think it’s a good fit for Domonick,” Mark Brown said. “First of all he’s a good athlete. He’s big enough to play inside and he runs well enough to play outside. He’s extremely coachable. He listens to scouting reports, watches film and prepares himself off the field. He worked to be the best he could be and he was.”
The Colonels, who were 6-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference, were left out of the FCS playoffs, but finished the year ranked No. 16 in the FCS coaches poll and No. 21 in The Sports Network poll.
Eastern Kentucky is slated to return 12 starters — six on offense and six on defense — in 2013, including five all-conference players.
“We lost lots of production from our 2012 senior class, in fact eight all-conference players,” Hood said. “We will look to our returnees and key players who were redshirted last year for that production this coming year.”
Brown said watching the success former John Hardin running back Matt Denham had at Eastern Kentucky played a major role in his decision. Denham was a two-time all-OVC first-team selection.
“I watched Matt and he was killing it,” Brown said. “I thought that’s exactly the path I want to go on. I want to be playing here. You see a number of guys who play Division I-AA and go on to successful NFL careers. I had some shots to go somewhere bigger, but I loved Eastern so much.”
Eastern Kentucky has had plenty of success through the years. The Colonels have won 21 OVC championships since 1954 and they claimed national championships in 1979 and ‘82. Brown said going to a winning program was a huge selling point.
“That played a lot into it.” Brown said. “Going to a program with several rings was big. They’ve won a lot of conference championships and they’ve won national championships. Coming from John Hardin, where we won a lot, and going to another winning program, that was a big part of my decision. I wanted to go to a place where that wins. That’s why I chose Eastern. They are committed to winning.”
Chuck Jonescan be reached at (270) 505-1759 or email@example.com.