Nekos Brown knows the spotlight quite well. He has seen it his whole life, watching his father, legendary musician Chuck Brown, perform on stage in front of live audiences.

Chuck Brown would call up his son to join him and his band on stage, and young Nekos would walk cautiously over, hoping Dad wouldn't do the unthinkable.

"I used to have stage fright that he'd put that mic in my face," Nekos Brown said. "I hated when he did that."

And Nekos would run behind the curtains.

"It took me forever to get him up on the stage," Chuck Brown said. "He's very bashful."

In a way, Dad is right about that. Put a helmet and pads on 6-foot-3, 230-pound Nekos Brown, and he will bash any ballcarrier in his sights.

It's that kind of ability that caught the attention of Virginia Tech last spring. In July, Brown orally committed to play linebacker for the Hokies next year.

That commitment gives Brown every opportunity to coast through his senior season at Thomas Stone. However, Brown is intent on sharing the spotlight.

"He's done the exact opposite," Cougars Coach Steve Lindsay said. "He's not doing this to prepare for Blacksburg. It's that he wants this Thomas Stone team to achieve its highest potential."

It's difficult to reconcile Brown's fear on stage with his comfort under the lights on Friday nights. The field is a bigger stage, there aren't any curtains, and fans have their eyes fixed on No. 44 in the yellow and blue uniform.

"It's different from being on the stage," Nekos said. "I'm under that helmet. You can't see my face. I just feel more comfortable that way."

It took Chuck a long time to realize that the second of his three sons was not going to follow in his musical footsteps.

"It was never about the music," Chuck said. "It was always, 'I want that ball. Gimme the ball.' "

Nekos said music "never really appealed to me. Music was normal to me. It wasn't anything new. Football was something different."

Nekos acknowledges that he has musical ambitions. Although Chuck keeps praising Nekos's ability to rap, Nekos said his interest lies off-stage in the production room.

But for the time being, Nekos's production room lies between the hash marks.

"I understand now," Chuck said. "The music can wait."

On stage, Nekos Brown shied away from the spotlight. But once he put on a football helmet, his talents blossomed. "It's different from being on the stage," Brown said. "I'm under that helmet. You can't see my face. I just feel more comfortable that way."