PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Keith Brown is the nation’s best high school inside linebacker. Lebanon’s senior star talked with KOIN 6 News about his commitment to the University of Oregon and how his family motivates him to be the best.
Keith was raised by a single mom and all of his cherished family members live under one roof. “It’s me, my mom, my great aunt, my little brother so that’s all we need, that’s all we got,” Keith said.
But those who he grew up alongside in the small town of Lebanon are also like family.
“Everyone in this community is so supportive of me and everyone else that it’s like you don’t just have one family, you have one, two, three, four, five,” Keith said.
Keith is the highest-ranked defensive in-state recruit the Ducks have ever landed. Courted by SEC powerhouses like Georgia and Alabama, the reason Oregon landed him is simple.
“The family feel they give you is so genuine,” Keith explained. “I just knew from Day One I was going to go there, there was no second option at all.”
The U of O has been there for Keith for years. They first met with him during his sophomore year.
“I was going to other visits and talking to other schools but it was never the same,” Keith said. “I was like, I know I’m going to Oregon so there’s no point in leading all these other schools on.”
Keith officially committed to Oregon following the 2019 rivalry game between the Ducks and Beavers.
“I’ve never seen so much enjoyment on someone’s face like (Coach) Cristobal, how excited he was, it was so genuine that I knew I made the right decision,” he said.
The Ducks’ coaching staff, including head coach Mario Cristobal, have also helped him through the death of his father.
“They FaceTimed him a lot, especially towards, like, when the cancer was really strong just to kind of keep his spirits up and he loved them,” Keith said.
When high school football in Oregon was postponed to the spring, along with the Pac-12, Brown followed the plan he’d had since 8th grade: to graduate early and be on campus in January. But when the Ducks found out they’d be playing in the fall, it was once again his family that made Keith decide to play his senior year with the Lebanon Warriors.
“What really, really triggered it was I was sitting down in a senior meeting and I was looking around, I was like, you know, I’ve been with some of these guys since second or third grade — I played with them at least three years in high school for sure,” Keith said. “And I was thinking college will be there forever but you only get one senior season so that was the main thing for me.”
Keith also recently got inducted to one of the most exclusive families: the NFL. During a clinic, Keith worked out with Bobby Wagner of the Seahawks, as well as KJ Wright and DK Metcalf and Richard Sherman of the 49s. Wagner remembers his first impression of the future Duck.
“There’s so many high recruits and there’s so many people that get access and, you know, get notoriety very, very quick and you know a lot of guys allow some of that go to their head and forget to do the things that got them that notoriety,” said Wagner. “So when you meet someone that young and able to be humble even through the success that he’s had you always feel like you can have faith that that success will continue.”
For Keith, Wagner and the other NFL players became another family.
“It does a lot for you because it boosts your confidence,” Keith said. “They can give you knowledge in the game because if you have more knowledge you have more confidence, especially because I can ask them for pointers not even just about football I can ask them about life things they went through, football things they went through, business stuff they went through and it does a lot for you as a person and helps you mature a lot, too.”
Family is the thread that weaves through every aspect of Keith’s life, from the one he was born with, to the one he battles with, the one he’s now a part of and the one taking him under their wing.
“I want to make a lot of people proud and a lot of people who I keep really tight to me who support me a lot and that’s really important to me,” he said.