ATLANTA — A heartbreaking story about Buford High School football star Derrian Brown has a community concerned, hoping the player makes a full recovery. 

Brown, one of the nation's highest-ranked running backs for 2019 (source: Rivals.com),  recently incurred a blood clot in his brain and subsequently required emergency surgery at a local hospital, according to the Hook 'Em Horns web site.

Before this medical emergency, Brown (1,897 rushing yard, 27 TDs last fall) had signed to play football at the University of Texas.

On Monday, 11Alive had a chance to speak with the coaches and leaders at Buford High, those who have known Brown – the athlete, the student, the thoughtful person – for a very long time.

RELATED: Buford football star Derrian Brown making progress after emergency brain surgery

"When you see a healthy kid, just running around and then all of a sudden, they say he's got a medical situation. You don't understand it, and you don't know why," said  Bryant Appling, head coach at Buford.

"Derrian is like a son to me, it was very traumatic for me," said Keith Johnson, Buford High administrator and a family friend. 

On the Caring Bridge website, Brown's mother wrote that Derrian had been to the Intensive Care Unit of a local hospital in late January for the surgery. Sunday, she said he had been moved from the ICU to a regular hospital room. 

 "He's better, it was tough in the beginning,"Johnson said.

CLICK HERE FOR DERRIAN BROWN'S GO-FUND-ME PAGE

The University of Texas has garnered NCAA-compliance approval for an online fundraiser, benefiting Brown's rehabilitation efforts. Brown's GoFundMe page, which originally had a target goal of $80,000, has received nearly $65,000 in online donations.