Get Ready to Know ’13: Notre Dame WR Chris Brown

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?

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  1. I think our receivers will get better with experience and opportunity. Although Tommy doesn’t have Golson’s arm, he does have the patience to go through the reads. Which can be a receivers dream come true if he stays focused. Chris Brown is ready and will show it in 2013!

  2. There are two things that Rees must avoid.

    Turnovers and SAC yardage.

    If he can avoid those two things, he, and the ND offense, will be fine.

    Because Golson was a scrambling QB that always ran the play that was called, it made it very simple on the recievers. They just ran the route for the play called and Golson could scramble out of trouble if need be.

    Your not going to get that with TR.

    Tommy Rees will change the play at the line. Perhaps more than once. That means everybody better be on the same page.
    If they are, it can be a thing of beauty, if not, there could be trouble.

  3. A 6’2, 190 lb Tommy Rees was tagged with the weak arm label comming out of high school.

    Without the benefit of at least 1 year in the conditioning program, he was almost immediately thrust into tha starting QB job and the weak arm label stuck.

    Here he is 4 years later. A 6’3, 220 lb senior.

    With 4 years now in the training program, and 30 pounds bigger, it’s hard for me to imagine that his arm strengh is still at the same level of that 17 year old high school player.

    I only hope that the teams on this years schedule continue to believe that TR has the same arm today, as he did back in 2010!

    1. Shaz,

      I need to listen to you more often! I agree with you and others TR may very well be a pleasant surprise and sans the hype of the naysayers. In which, I was guilty!!!!
      TR definitely deserves a shot.


  4. To me this offense can be great if Tommy makes the right reads…all this talk of how you need to throw it downfield you need a big strong arm…you need timing and accuracy more in college..look at boise st. with Kellen Moore at qb
    That team could score and stretch the field.he had no arm at all, and zero mobility, but was smart and accurate..Another qb that comes to mind is Ken Dorsey..he was horribly unathletic and yet they went deep all the time…”but he had Andre Johnson” yes he did but i remember it was timing and accuracy…if Tommy improves on that, the offense could be really good…if not lets hope our o-line can manhandle everybody, and our rbs can pound it…thats my rant on qb arm difficiencys.

    1. Ken Dorsey was surrounded by perhaps the greatest collection of talent ever on a college team. I believe somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 players were drafted off of that team and around 20 were 1st round picks. ND has talent now, but not quite that amount of talent.

  5. Moving Chris Brown is the first concession to Tommy’s weaknesses. Brown is a pure outside receiver for any other QB. It looks as if they have decided to throw him short passes and let him outrun the defense.

    If Greg Bryant is the power runner inside that we expect, there must be a way to exploit the speed of Brown and Atkinson to the outside.

    But it is hard to move the ball when you cannot stretch the field vertically.

  6. The biggest change in Brown’s game this year will be that he will be asked to do more than just run a post route – similarly to what Golden Tate did as a sophomore. Look for Kelly and Martin to find ways to get the ball in the hands of players who have elite speed like Brown.

  7. Jeff, I agree with you. I try to be optimistic going into each year (I thought we would win 9 or 10 games last year if Golson was the real deal) but I feel Chris Brown’s biggest setback this year will be that he has Rees at QB. On one hand we could be a lot worse off than having a guy like Rees, but I also feel like I’m down on the team this year because I know exactly what we are going to get. We will get stellar defensive play and a very bland offense that doesn’t really evolve. I think we can have a good running game, but not sure any of the WRs are going to have great years. Rubber arm Tommy is going to do enough to win games against the mediocre teams and he won’t have enough in the tank to beat Oklahoma, USC, Stanford, etc. I think 8 wins is where we will finish up.

  8. I dont see Chris Brown breaking out this year with T. Rees at QB. I believe the offensive scoring will be similar to last year. Brown can certainly get behind the defense but not sure Rees can make that throw. It will be much the same this year with field goals in the red zone. The good news is the Defense should be stellar once again which means the offense only needs to score 17-20 pts per game. There is a lot of inexperience at the skill positions and that kind of scares me. I still believe we will win 10 games this year and play in a BCS bowl game. If Kelly and the rest of the coaching staff stay at ND and see this thru then I see 2014 and 2015 as potential BCS champs. The offensive line will be massive. Golson and Zaire battling for the starting QB job and the depth at RB and WR and TE will be as good and deep as weve ever seen at ND.

    1. This makes total sense yet I recall Lou Holtz saying “the 1988 NC team was at least a year ahead” of his projections as ‘the team’.

      1. Toulmin, I would extrapolate your observation about
        Holtz to college football more broadly. Without recounting it line by line there are at least a dozen teams who “won it a year early” or “tanked in the “RIGHT” year.”

        Football humbles predictors.

      2. I believe that any season can be “the year.” At Notre Dame “Our Lady” anything is possible. ND is talent rich enough this season to go the distance IMhumbleO.

      3. Really, I predicted right here on this site we would go 12-O after the Oklahoma win. Plus Kelly would win coach of the year. Plus your buddy Teo would win the Heisman and we would beat Bama.

        That’s positively 50% better than being a constant negative “bedwetter” like yourself duranko!

        Toulmin, I am highly optimistic this is the year also. 11-1 for the record! This year! Don’t let anyone destroy your eternal positive soul.

        Be comforted in a real fact of life. People with blinders on, only see their view point in their exclusive world.

        Keep up the great positive mental attitude Toulmin. I enjoy your posts.

    2. I think having Tommy as the QB actually gives Chris the MOST chance to succeed this year. Golson didn’t throw to the slot very much because he is still learning progressions and checkdowns. Tommy is much more experienced in this regard and has a chance to put it into action. Chris Brown moving to the slot puts him in the PRIME area for Tommy to hit him with passes and give him a chance. He isn’t going to be getting behind defenses running go routes, but rather finding holes in space.

    1. “Woody O’Hardy”? Sounds like a basketball stud if I’ve ever heard of one! (slang for bb-court is “the hard-wood”)

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