Less than two months after Nick Evers decommitted from Florida, new coach Billy Napier seems to have found his replacement: dual-threat Max Brown.
In short, Brown is one of the most fascinating prospects in the entire 2022 recruiting class. You can watch his highlight tape here.
A consensus three-star prospect from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Brown didn’t garner a whole lot of interest on the recruiting trail until the summer before his senior season, when… guess who? ….Jim McElwain was intrigued by his potential and offered him a scholarship to play at Central Michigan. Without a great deal of attention coming his way from other schools, Brown took the offer and committed. Right then and there. On the spot.
Brown had had a solid junior season by all objective means for Lincoln Christian School. He completed 88 of his 121 pass attempts (72.7%) for 1,666 yards and 27 touchdowns, and he ran 154 times for 992 yards and 13 touchdowns. And the tape was good, too: Brown showed himself to be a strong pocket passer who could also throw on the run and make things happen with his feet.
But then came his senior year, an appreciable uptick in those numbers, and at least according to the people who watch him, more consistency in his game tape. Max Brown went off for 2,750 yards through the air and 1,343 more on the ground was responsible for 61 touchdowns in 2021 and took Lincoln Christian all the way to the Oklahoma 3A State Championship Game.
The only problem- i.e. the reason Brown is a three-star prospect- is the noticeable lack of tough opposition that Lincoln Christian faced on a weekly basis. For perspective, think of FSU playing cupcakes like UMass and Jacksonville State (whoops) every week to reach the title game, where they suddenly play Louisville- and lose. Oklahoma 3A high school football is not terrible, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Florida, Texas, California, or even Georgia when it comes to breeding high school athletes. It just doesn’t.
And that means that a lot of things you see on his highlight tape, such as the separation his receivers gain and his ability to school defenders out of their shoes with a juke, simply will not happen in the SEC. Which means he’s a developmental prospect. He’s got a next to zero chance of starting in 2023. But the physical tools are there to believe that he could be a serviceable SEC quarterback down the road.
In the meanwhile, Billy Napier found himself in a rather peculiar position with his Florida Gators at the QB position. Emory Jones had entered the transfer portal (he’s since apparently decided to stay) and Anthony Richardson was all but assumed to be the starter in 2022, while Carlos Del Rio Wilson and Jalen Kitna seemed stashed away as depth or future options. Even though Florida pulled in Jack Miller from Ohio State out of the transfer portal, with Nick Evers out the door, Napier needed someone else to fill the obligatory Class of 2022 slot that could have eligibility extending through at least 2025.
That’s why Napier reeled him in for a visit this past weekend, and when he stepped on campus, he was smitten by the environment. Now, a few days later, he has committed.
Does this all seem familiar? It should. Once upon a time, there was a kid from Manvel, TX named Kyle Trask that nobody wanted other than Jim McElwain. Eventually, Trask got his chance to star under a new staff at Florida.
Of course, there are major differences between the two. For one thing, Brown is a legitimate threat to run whereas Trask wasn’t, and even in mop-up duty, Trask went up against significantly stronger opposition in Texas than Brown faced in Oklahoma.
But here’s where you remember: Joe Burrow was a three-star. Jimmy Garoppolo was a two-star. Patrick Mahomes was a three-star. Josh Allen was a two-star. Do not be fooled by star rankings when it comes to quarterbacks, as they tend to mean almost as much about the development time required to reach their ceilings than how high those ceilings actually are.
Florida took on a project in Max Brown. That project may very well turn out to be worth Florida’s while, and the risk, if it doesn’t, is minimal.