O.C. Brown's football ability has rarely been questioned. His academics are another matter.
Those close to the News Sentinel's 10th best prospect in the state began to grow worrisome during Brown's junior season at Manassas High School in Memphis. The concern was that Brown wouldn't be able to qualify academically to play college football.
So coaches, family and friends sprung into action, developing a plan to make sure the 6-foot-3, 315-pound offensive lineman's transcript didn't hold him back.
Brown stayed with volunteer assistant coach Mike Ray during the week before returning to his grandmother's home for the weekend. Ray set up tutoring for Brown.
The home away from home helped.
"A lot better," said Brown when asked about his academic standing.
"It was working out really fine. There was much improvement in my grades. It helped a lot."
Now Brown can be a prospect - not a prospect with questionable academics.
"Recruiting is going great," he said. "I'm just working hard, trying to get more offers."
Brown recently picked up scholarship offers from Arkansas State and Tennessee State. He already holds official invites from Colorado, Kentucky and Southern Miss.
That list will likely grow as more coaches see that Brown is much more likely to qualify than he was a year ago.
Brown is frequently compared to former Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher, who was selected in the first round of the NFL draft in April. Oher, also a Memphis native, had similar academic issues overcome by help from his coaches and friends.
"People were telling me I was just like him," said Brown, who is back living with his grandmother this summer. "It's kind of different."
One difference is Brown has much more support from his natural family than Oher, who was abandoned as a child. Both, however, have faced some tough circumstances.
Brown's mother died of a brain aneurysm in 1999. His uncle was shot and killed by his girlfriend in 2006. Brown was so upset when his uncle went missing that he skipped football practice to look for him.
Brown has always had his haven in the tough times. The football field is a good place to release some of the aggression built up in an adolescent who has faced so many adult problems.
"I love pulling and being aggressive and being a downhill blocker," Brown said.
Brown said there's no leader for his services. He's just letting the recruiting game come to him.
"I'm open all the way," he said. "Whatever school is best for me, that's where I'll go."
Tennessee has certainly shown interest, but it's unclear if the Vols will offer a scholarship.
"They're recruiting me a lot," Brown said. "They haven't offered yet. I think they're waiting on some more people. We'll see how it goes from there.
"I'd be interested in Tennessee."