The smell of pigskin and freshly cut turf field (figuratively speaking, of course) is in the air.
These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of football news. With Bralon Addison down for the count, the Ducks are in need of new starting wide receivers for the coming season.
Enter true freshman Jalen Brown, an early high school graduate and the lone member of the 2014 prep recruiting class currently participating in spring practice.
Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Jalen Brown stands 6′ 2” tall and weighs roughly 185 pounds. He played varsity all four years at his alma mater, Mountain Pointe.
During his time there, Brown racked up several prestigious accolades. He was named 1st Team All-Region in 2010, All-Sections honors following his sophomore year; Arizona’s Gatorade Football Player-of-the-Year following his junior year; and he had his biggest year in 2013 …Brown was “the 2013 Division I Section III South Team Player of the Year, accrued All-USA Arizona first-team honors, Arizona Division I all-state acclaim, and Top 25 All-Arizona recognition for the Pride.”
He also took part in U.S. Army All-American Bowl his senior year — which invites only the best 90 players to play on two teams: East and West. More than 200 of its alums have experienced successful NFL careers its 14 years since commission.
His career at Mountain Pointe ended on the highest high: an undefeated season and a state championship win. His impressive career stats include a state all-time record of 52 touchdowns and the tying of a school record of 14 career interceptions, with 181 catches for a total of 3,367-yards.
Brown finished his high school career ranked as the No. 1 wide receiver and No. 7 player in Arizona. Big name schools took a wholly understandable interest in the four-star WR (Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Washington, and Wisconsin), but he decided his talents would best be utilized under Coach Helfrich’s budding regime. Wise choice, my friend.
Already fairly close to Marcus Mariota, Brown has made himself a possible contender for some serious game time this coming season. Pre-injury, Bralon Addison recognized Brown’s blooming abilities: “He’s a 17-year old coming out of high school, he’s out here with 22-year old guys. He was never intimidated or worried about messing up. He just came out there and played hard and played fast. I really think has a bright future ahead of him.”
His fellow teammates rave about him and the coaches couldn’t agree more. In an “Emerald” article, Offensive Coordinator Scott Frost was quoted as saying, “I think his intelligence is the biggest thing. He’s able to get lined up and know what he’s doing, having only been here for a quarter and four practices and that’s rare.”
Skill-wise, Jalen Brown is a versatile guy. He’s got great body control, impressive hands (0:32 in the highlight reel, anyone?), and effortlessly eludes the initial tackler — quick on his feet to get out of tricky situations for that extra yardage. But he can also be the effective blocker at a moment’s notice. Anything asked of him, Jalen Brown can do. The video above, is a clear representation of what sort of player Brown is on the field. Although college ball kicks up the intensity 10 notches, Brown has — at the very least — the baseline for greatness.
And greatness is something for which the Ducks strive. Injuries are an unnecessary evil, but they happen. While they are horrific tragedies, the only option is to keep moving. Don’t lose momentum. We wish Bralon Addison nothing but a swift recovery.
However, the Ducks can’t “Win The Day” with their focus on yesterday. It’s time to find some potential replacements for the WRs who are leaving soon (or have left). Recruitment is an endless cycle which may seem cold, but that’s the game. Every member of the Ducks must be ready to hit the field and put points on the board — or, of course, stop the other guys from doing so.
Jalen Brown’s early graduation may have been the best thing possible for the Ducks. Replacing Addison will be a tough feat, but Brown is already a serious contender to takeover. Though it’s more likely he’ll share the role with Keanon Lowe and Chance Allen, if he can have the killer year Tyner had as a true freshman, the starting position may be his to take for the duration of his Duck days.
Be sure to look out for Jalen Brown during the spring game on May 3rd, and the coming season. It’s sure to be an explosive one!
Top photo from GoDucks.com