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Freshman Focus: Chris Brown

May 21, 2012, 4:02 PM EST

Chris Brown

The senior class of 2012 graduated this weekend from Notre Dame, all but closing the book on a recruiting class that came in like a lion and left like a lamb. Yes, Braxston Cave, Mike Golic, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Jamoris Slaughter and Dan McCarthy will all return for a fifth season. Yes, Michael Floyd broke a first-round draft pick drought and Kyle Rudolph was the first tight end to come off the board after leaving school early.

But Lou Somogyi of Blue & Gold Illustrated points out the high hopes that existed for the 23-man recruiting class that Charlie Weis inked in 2008, judged by many as the top Irish class since the Lou Holtz era.

Take a quick jog down memory lane thanks to Lou:

There were several others in the ensuing years that were ranked in the top 5, and the 1995 haul was even No. 1 — but that was before receiver Randy Moss and running back James Jackson were not admitted into school.

The 23-man Irish class in 2008 was ranked No. 2 only behind Alabama by almost all the five major recruiting services (ESPN did have it as low as 9th). More amazing was the way it held together after a 3-9 season by the 2007 team. More than a dozen members played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, easily the most ever by one school.

“It’s probably the biggest story in recruiting,” marveled SuperPrep publisher Allen Wallace of how the Irish still blazed the recruiting trail during a 3-9 campaign. “… You’re talking about one of the Notre Dame classes of old.”

Instead of wallowing on about the four years that have passed, let’s focus on another Class of ’12 set to make its mark on Irish football. In a little more than three weeks, fourteen freshman will make their way to South Bend to join the team for voluntary workouts and get a jump start on class during summer school.

Let’s take a closer look at those freshman, and take a guess at some projections for how they’ll do this upcoming season.

CHRIS BROWN, WR
Hanahan, South Carolina
6-foot-2, 175-pounds

The Skinny: Brown looks to be another potential two-sport track star for the Irish. He’s won multiple triple jump state championships and ran a personal best 10.53 in the 100m before finishing second in the state meet at 10.81. A shoulder injury kept him off the national radar, but the Irish beat out Steve Spurrier and South Carolina for his services.

How Ready is he? Good question. The Irish hope very ready, as he’ll be looked at as a potential vertical threat, where his height and leaping ability will be put to the test. That said, while his recruiting profile says he’s 6-foot-2, 185-pounds, a recent article in the South Bend Tribune pegs him at 170-pounds, which means he’s got a lot of work to do to get up to snuff physically.

Best Case Scenario: Brown comes in and lights it up, adding a below the radar deep threat to a receiving corps that’s looking for contributors. With Tyler Eifert and the Irish offense hoping to put defenses in a position where they’ll have to single cover other targets, Brown becomes a down-field threat immediately. Let’s not get crazy projecting double-digit touchdowns, but Brown could lead the Irish in yards-per-catch.

Worst Case Scenario: Brown struggles to find his footing at the collegiate level after spending more of his time as a track star than a football player. Unable to get on the field behind guys like John Goodman, Davaris Daniels, and Daniel Smith, and less ready for the bright lights than fellow freshmen Davonte Neal and Justin Ferguson, Brown spends the year in the weight room, saving a year of eligibility.

What Should Make People Happy: Nobody expects Brown to replace Michael Floyd, but before Floyd set all the rookie receiving records at Notre Dame, Duval Kamara had an impressive freshman campaign amidst that horrific 2007 season. The Irish staff thinks Brown has the jump ball skills that Kamara brought to the table. He’s also got way more speed than Kamara ever had. If TJ Jones averaged 13.3 yards a catch during his freshman campaign, expect 15 yards a catch for Brown (a number that matches Floyd’s freshman season).

How Badly Does the Irish Need Him? Pretty badly. On a scale of 1-10, Brown is probably  a 7.5, one of the top numbers in the freshman class.

One Tidbit for the Road: It sounds like the Irish won’t just be getting a track star, but they’ll be getting a team player. The Charleston Post and Courier had this on Brown’s selflessness.

Last spring, Brown in an effort to bring the Hawks a state title, didn’t compete in the high jump and opted for the long jump after talking to coach David Pratt about what was best for the team. Brown recorded the top jump in the state with a leap of 23 feet, 9 inches, to lead the Hawks to the state championship.

This spring, Brown, once again, has been the consummate team player. He passed on the long jump and concentrated on the high jump in a move to score more points at the state meet. The change of events has been remarkable. Brown cleared 6-10 in the high jump last weekend and seems poised to climb to the top of the victory stand.

While Brown didn’t win four events, he led the track team to another state title, with a win and three second-place finishes in the 100m, 200m, and high jump.

 

 

  1. seanb20124 - May 21, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    I guess in HS track a student athlete is limited in the number of events one can enter.

  2. herringbonesports - May 21, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    Those track numbers certainly are making the rounds online and blowing Brown’s profile up quite a bit. I have to 100% agree that unlike other freshmen he is coming in a position of true need and, more importantly, very little Saturday production.

    While red-shirts are always an option, it’d have to be a major surprise if he’s not on the Hail Mary team early and getting a few reps in those first few games. It’s been said before, but getting these type of athletes on a regular basis can never be understated. Looking forward to Chris Brown’s early camp returns.

  3. nudeman - May 21, 2012 at 5:47 PM

    6’2″ 170 would be incredibly skinny, wouldn’t it?
    That’s quite a discrepancy (vs 185 lbs).
    Unless he gets his ass to some of those parties Goodman, Carlo and Tommy throw and beefs up the old fashioned way, he won’t see the field this year.

    Anyone have any more info on this to clarify?

    • paiten34 - May 24, 2012 at 9:29 PM

      Well going from football in the fall to track in the spring you have to drop weight. I think he’ll get his weight back up in the 180’s by the time the season starts. All that running to get in shape for track takes it out of people. I think by mid season he’ll have some plays put in for him.

  4. bernhtp - May 21, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    I hope he spends a lot of time in the weight room. He will get killed otherwise and won’t be able to help out with blocking. I looked at his highlight video and he doesn’t break many tackles.

  5. gatordomer - May 21, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    It is no coincidence that in tthe SEC most of the best athletes play defemse.

    Put Chris at corner. That’s the team’s biggest need and he has the skills to be a great one.

  6. kaf39 - May 23, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    Seems like a great athlete

    • joeschulz - May 23, 2012 at 6:21 PM

      “Phenomenal” is probably a better word. He is “Spiderman.”

  7. dwnbc - May 23, 2012 at 5:29 PM

    I’m interested to see how he does this year

  8. joeschulz - May 23, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    If he adds 30 lbs of muscle he won’t be able to do what he can do now. If you put him on the field every play, he will get hurt. Use him and his extraordinary talents when you need him and them. Hone his skills at receiver and free safety, then put him in when you must have a TD or an interception. Call him “Hero.” Let him be what he is, an extraordinary athlete. Don’t overuse him. Don’t let him get hurt trying to block a 250 lb. linebacker.

  9. getsome99 - May 23, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    170 is his track weight. This kid is a dedicated athlete with great discipline and incredible work ethic. Expect him to get up to 180 by fall. He will be a playmaker right out of the gate.

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