A few weeks ago we profile 6 players Ready for Prime Time for Notre Dame in 2013 – players who have established themselves already and are ready to be big time playmakers for the Irish. Today we are starting to profile some players who may not have played much to this point in their careers, but are ready to start making a name for themselves this fall.
Outside of Irish Nation, the name Chris Brown is synonymous with a volatile, but popular musician, but if you’re an Irish fan, then it has a totally different meaning. The young wide receiver out of South Carolina is the epitome of “raw talent”, but many expect the upcoming 2013 season to be the time that Brown starts to leave that description behind.
In high school, Brown started turning heads during his junior season, as he grabbed 52 balls for 1098 yards, and 16 touchdowns. While those numbers are impressive enough, it was his 21.1 yards per catch average that brought many suitors to his doorstep. Standing at 6’2” , 185lbs, and blessed with the ability to run forty yards in just 4.44 seconds, Brown started to pile up the offers from major programs. With interest from North and South Carolina, Clemson, and Virginia Tech, many assumed that he would stay close to home, but that would not be the case. Brown let coach Kelly and coach Elston know that South Bend is where he was heading.
It may be odd talking about a player who only had 2 receptions in all of 2012 as having the ability to be one of the better receivers on the Notre Dame roster in 2013, but Brown is capable of just that. Showing flashes of his potential last year in a tight game in Norman, Brown managed to get behind the Sooners coverage and snatch a 50 yard heave from Irish quarterback Everett Golson, that eventually led to an Irish touchdown and victory. It is this type of big-play potential and skill-set that has the Irish coaching staff and fan-base excited to see the possible evolution of the talented wide-out.
Brown’s raw ability, but limited output have many comparing him to former Irish receiver, Golden Tate. In Tate’s freshman year, he had just 6 receptions for a total of 131 yards, and 1 touchdown. As a sophomore, Tate would go on to have 58 catches for 1080 yards, and 93 catches for almost 1500 yards in his junior year, before declaring for the NFL draft. We are sure Irish fans, coaching staff, and Brown himself would be happy if his career continued to mirror that of Tate’s, but only time will tell.
The decision has been made this year to move Brown to the slot position to compensate for injuries, transfers, and to afford him the chance to see the field quicker and more often 2013. Unlike last year, the coaching staff is looking to give Brown a true shot at having a huge impact on the Irish offense, and now it’s up to Brown to fulfill certain expectations. If the sophomore can live up to those expectations, then Irish fans most likely will see a move to the outside, where his speed can be properly utilized.
While the Irish receiving corp. may be lacking true depth because of the before-mentioned transfers and injuries, that doesn’t mean they lack talent. What the Irish are dealing with is the fact that after you get past T.J. Jones and Davaris Daniels, there is a bunch of inexperience and question marks. If Brown can establish himself as a true threat everywhere, and not just a deep threat, it will give the Irish some stability at a position that sorely needs it right now
At this point nothing is guaranteed for Brown, only the fact that he will have the opportunity to earn sufficient playing time. Irish fans are well aware of the fact coach Kelly requires much more from his starting receivers than just the ability to run fast. Brown will need to master the playbook, perform in practice, and of course, be able to maintain a block downfield. These are the attributes that made players like Tyler Eifert, Jeff Samardzija, and Michael Floyd so special, beyond just their ability to catch a pass.
In a year in which the Irish will be looking for players to step up and contribute on the field and as a leader, the speedster from Hanahan, South Carolina will have the chance to do just that. Brown has the ability to leave his mark on the Irish program, and become a household name on a national level, the question is, will he take advantage of this opportunity?