The former Syracuse running back and NFL player will take the helm for the Warriors.
After a monthlong coaching search, the West Orange football team finally has its new head coach.
The school announced last week former Syracuse running back and NFL veteran Dee Brown will take over the Warriors’ program following the departure of interim head coach Terence Tolbert — who left for Wekiva.
Although he is still in the process of getting his family and himself to Winter Garden, Brown already has met with the team and is ready to get going.
“I am super excited,” he said. “I talked to my boys today, and obviously meeting them for the first time was going to be a little bit nervous for both sides, but it didn’t take long for those guys to get comfortable for me. I just felt right at home. Sometimes, you walk into a place or you put on a shoe, and it just fits — you have that feeling.
“The young men, they welcomed me with open arms,” Brown said. “I told them, ‘As long as you guys allow me to put everything that I have into you and you receive it, we’ll have a great time together.’”
A native of Clearwater, Brown comes to West Orange with years of football experience, which all started during his time at Lake Brantley in Altamonte Springs. His play at running back for the Patriots got the attention of the Syracuse football program, where he played for four years (1997-2000). In college, he rushed for more than 2,600 yards and 28 touchdowns.
“I am super excited. I talked to my boys today, and obviously meeting them for the first time was going to be a little bit nervous for both sides, but it didn’t take long for those guys to get comfortable for me. I just felt right at home. Sometimes, you walk into a place or you put on a shoe, and it just fits — you have that feeling.”
— Dee Brown
Brown was taken in the sixth round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers, before going on to play six seasons with the Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs.
Once his time in the NFL was up, the next step was obvious — coaching. So in 2011, Brown took over the head-coaching job at Victory Christian (Charlotte, North Carolina), where he led the school to a 31-18 record and two North Carolina independent high-school titles (2012 and 2014) over the span of four years.
Brown took a year off from coaching, before joining the staff at Lake Nona for a year. Brown’s last stop would be as assistant head coach at Rocky River (Mint Hill, North Carolina).
Although he was content at Rocky River, Brown said the job at West Orange was too good to pass up.
“If this was any other position at any other school, I wouldn’t have taken it — I told them (that) in my interview,” Brown said. “The only other position I would have listened to was obviously my alma mater, but other than that, West Orange was it — that’s for the whole state of Florida. I always said for the last couple of years, that that school — where it’s located, the demographics — is a perfect fit for me and for my family and for me to come back home and be close to my family.”
Brown plans on getting to campus in time for spring practices, which begin April 22 for West Orange, and he already is plotting out how he is approaching the season in the fall.
But what style of play is he looking to implement? For Brown, it is about crafting a scheme that fits with the team’s specific strengths.
“It’ll be a lot of all of it,” Brown said. “When I look at the team and I look at the personnel, and I talk to the guys and speak with coaches and stakeholders in the community, I know what I’m inheriting. So I expect us to be a top-tier team both offensively and defensively. And let’s not forget special teams, because that’s a game changer — especially at the high-school level.”