REFUGIO — Armonie Brown was one of about 10 players staying with Refugio coach Jason Herring after Hurricane Harvey damaged their homes.
Herring recalls cooking hamburgers one night before the players ran upstairs to play X-Box.
But Herring heard a sound in the kitchen and when he looked, he saw Brown washing dishes.
“It takes a special kid,” Herring said. “All the things that make Armonie special — always being on time, the discipline he has in his life, the character. I think all that stuff helps you make it.”
Brown’s character, perseverance and football ability allowed him to achieve a goal of playing college football.
He made his quest a reality along with a large crowd of friends and family Wednesday night at “A Little Britt of Heaven” by signing a letter of intent with Texas-El Paso.
“I always dreamed about playing college football, but I never believed I had the ability to do it until seventh-grade year. That’s where I fell into the game.”
Brown was a four-year starter for the Bobcats. He played in 61 games, made three state final appearances and was a member of the 2016 state championship team. Brown finished his senior year as the defensive player of the year on the Associated Press Sports Editors Class 2A all-state team.
“I think he is ready,” Herring said. “We’ve had two crazy specimens in Trace (Mascorro) and Armani. Trace was able to play so I really fell like Armani can play pretty quick.”
Brown was sold on UTEP after Miners first-year head coach Dana Dimel visited Refugio.
“The main thing was them bringing in the big offer,” Brown said. “That surprised me. That and the head coach came down and talked to me.”
Brown and his family visited El Paso last week and he has no second thoughts about choosing a school 690 miles away from home where he hopes to become the first member of his family to earn a college degree.
“I’m just going to change the cycle in my family,” Brown said. “I’m doing it for my family. I’m going to keep on pushing through it. As long as I have football on my side and support on my side, I’ll be good.”
Herring knows the first year won’t be easy for Brown, but expects him to make the transition.
“Monie always told me, ‘Coach, I want to go a long ways from Refugio so I won’t be tempted to come back,’” Herring said. “He’s about as far away as he can get in Texas.
“I knew it was important for Armonie to find the right fit,” he added. “He had offers all over the place. I had no idea it would be UTEP, but I always thought it would be real important for him to have the best shot at making it was fit. When that coach came down, it just fell in our lap. It was just too good of a deal. We were thoroughly impressed with coach Dimel. We sat down and within 10 minutes, I could tell that Armonie was sold.”
Brown fit the profile that Dimel was looking for in his first recruiting class.
“The elements that we want to have in our recruiting are we want to have guys who have great mental toughness, some intestinal fortitude,” Dimel said. “They have to have very good football IQ, which is really critical for us as well. They have to be able to run well for their position. That is something that is a key ingredient for us.”
Brown hopes to get on the field as soon as possible and is certain his experience at Refugio has him ready to play at the next level.
“Refugio being able to take me in and being able to have faith in me my freshman year and giving me that starting spot was a blessing,” he said. “I just showed them what I could do and showed out for the community.”