Growing up in Jacksonville, NC, as the youngest of three football-playing brothers developed a special level of toughness in Tymir Brown.
“They influenced me a lot,” Brown said. “I always looked up to them and just tried to make the same moves they made. It also made me tougher as a football player just being bullied by them for years.”
In this case, the bullying paid off.
Brown became an all-star performer at Jacksonville High School and a major college recruit. The 6-foot, 180-pound cornerback initially signed with North Carolina, but after spending two seasons with the Tar Heels opted to enter the NCAA Transfer Portal two days after suiting up for the Tar Heels in the ACC Championship game on Dec. 3.
East Carolina immediately became Brown’s No. 1 option due to personal connections to a pair of Pirate alums. Seven days after entering the portal, Brown made a verbal commitment to ECU and will enroll next month with three years of eligibility remaining.
“East Carolina is just an hour away from my home, so I already knew a lot about them,” Bown said about becoming a Pirate. “I’ve been to games there and know a lot of guys on the team. It was just meant to be.”
The Pirates did recruit Brown while he was starring four seasons at Jacksonville High School, where he followed in the footsteps of older brothers Jaicari and JaQuez. All were multi-sport athletes at Jacksonville, and Jaicari and JaQuez would advance to the college level in football. Jaicari spent time at Greensboro College as a wide receiver and is now at Eastern Kentucky, while JaQuez was headed to Louisburg to play junior college football before illness forced him to the sidelines. He’s now serving in the military.
Tymir became a rare freshman to distinguish himself on the Jacksonville varsity in the fall of 2017 as a cornerback starter while also serving as a backup at quarterback and wide receiver. He made 33 tackles and an interception while appearing in eight games.
“We knew about him (Tymir) in middle school because his older brothers were playing for us,” Jacksonville coach Beau Williams said. “He’s one of the first ones we’ve ever had start as a freshman.”
A year later Brown helped propel the Cardinals to the state 3-A championship game. His interception return for a touchdown in a quarterfinal win against Eastern Alamance was one of the biggest plays in the march to the finals.
Brown enjoyed a breakout year on offense as a junior playing quarterback. He completed 30 of 100 passes for 635 yards and four touchdowns, while also rushing 94 times for 713 yards and 11 scores. The COVID-19 pandemic limited Jacksonville to seven games in the spring of 2020, but it didn’t stop college recruiters from calling on Brown.
Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Charlotte, Duke, ECU, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and West Virginia were Football Bowl Subdivision programs that offered him scholarships. But one of the drawbacks facing prospects in the Class of 2021 is they were unable to take official recruiting visits because of COVID. In that environment, Brown opted to sign with North Carolina, which had recently signed another Onslow County product, Northside’s Ja’Qurious Conley, who saw significant playing time in the secondary as a true freshman.
Brown played in three games on special teams as a true freshman at UNC. But after seeing no action as a redshirt freshman this season, he decided to make a change.
“Being in Chapel Hill the past two years I really didn’t get much playing time, so I figured it was time for a change,” he said. “I got in contact with ECU through my high school coach and my cousin, Dakota Marshall.”
Williams earned both his bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from East Carolina, while Marshall was a three-year secondary starter for the Pirates between 2006-2008.
ECU moved quickly to secure Brown, getting him on campus for his first and only official visit.
“I had plenty of offers (in high school),” Brown said. “But my first official visit was like two weeks ago. If I was able to take an official visit during my (high school) recruiting process, I’m sure I would have changed my mind (and picked ECU).”
Brown will enroll at ECU next month and participate in spring practice with the Pirates. He plans to use spring as a “getting acquainted” period.
“I want to get the playbook down, and get all the basic schemes of the defense,” he said. “And I really just want to build relationships with my teammates. I’m going to just try to get connected. I want to get ready to help them win games next season.”