DALLAS – Ladarius Brown didn't play sports as a freshman at Waxahachie High School. A year later, he was a three-sport athlete who was on the field just about every snap for the football team.
Brown can't really explain the sudden transformation. He says he just wanted to play football again for the first time since his peewee days, then decided to join the basketball and track teams when those seasons rolled around.
He plans to keep playing all three as a senior, even though the receiver-defensive back has blossomed into one of the top recruits in football-crazy Texas. He's considering Texas A&M, TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma and, of course, Texas.
His potentially bright future won't change his football workload, either.
"We don't baby those guys," Waxahachie coach David Ream said. "He'll start and play both ways."
Coaches found Brown in a physical education class the spring of his freshman year. Ream said he was a starting safety before the end of spring practice that year, then had three receiving touchdowns in a game as a sophomore. Brown returned two fumbles for touchdowns in the first game of his junior season.
"He really came on," Ream said. "He's just an all-around good player."
Running, jumping and hitting come a lot easier to Brown than talking, but he says he knows he'll have to be more vocal with Waxahachie losing a bunch of seniors from a 13-1 team that lost to Class 4A state finalist Longview in the playoffs.
"I'm going to have to lead," said Brown, who averaged 26 yards per catch and had nine receiving touchdowns last year.
Ream said Brown "spent a whole year on varsity and I never heard him say a word." But he said Brown was more talkative during spring practice and understands his role is bigger than touchdowns and interceptions.
"We had 35 seniors that were all good players and good leaders for us," Ream said. "He kind of took it in, and now it's his time to step it up."