He’s not one of the four captains for the 2015 Fighting Irish. He doesn’t lead Notre Dame in any statistical category. He might not be drafted in May despite running out of eligibility. But Notre Dame almost certainly would not be in a position to even have a chance at the playoffs if it wasn’t for the on field and sideline efforts of wide receiver Chris Brown.
On the field, Chris Brown has quietly developed into a reliable weapon in the Notre Dame offense. He’s racked up career highs in receptions (43), yards (555), and touchdowns (3) in his final season with the Fighting Irish – all with at least two games to go. He is also coming off a career game against Boston College with 6 receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown – the first 100 yard game of his career.
Brown has been huge for the Irish when they’ve needed him the most this year as well. In their gritty win over Temple, Brown hauled in 6 catches for 72 yards. Against Clemson, Brown was instrumental in their comeback bid with 4 receptions for 83 yards. He also came up just short of playing the role of hero with a near touchdown that turned into a crushing turnover near the goal-line.
As good as Brown has been on the field, he’s been even better on the sidelines. Anyone who watches the Showtime series “A Season With Notre Dame Football” is well aware of Brown’s presence on the Notre Dame sideline. When Corey Robinson made a huge touchdown grab for the Irish against USC, Brown was the first to be there telling him “you’re the man” with a smile on his face from ear to ear.
Earlier this season Brown was seen consoling Robinson as the junior has struggled this year with drops and inconsistent play just a year after looking like he was on the verge of a breakout season. When Will Fuller dropped a few crucial passes this past weekend including what could have been a game sealing touchdown, Brown was there talking up the star wide receiver on the sidelines after.
Watch any Notre Dame touchdown this season and #2 is usually one of the first on the scene celebrating with his teammates. At a position that is prone to produce “divas”, Chris Brown or “Breezy” as he’s called is the antithesis of the primadona wide receiver. He’s never complained about his role in the offense, he’s never been seen pouting on the sidelines for not getting the ball. He’s just spent the past four years going about his business and improving himself every game, every season.
Along the way, he’s become quiet the leader for the Notre Dame offense even if there isn’t a letter “C” on his jersey. The term “right kind of guys” gets thrown around a lot on Notre Dame message boards ever since Brian Kelly uttered it early in his Notre Dame career, but Chris Brown truly exemplifies what a “RKG” at Notre Dame is.
His final numbers this season might not jump off the page and he might not wow scouts at the NFL Combine if he is invited, but Chris Brown is the type of athlete Notre Dame needs in order to have the kind of years it’s having in 2015. Selfless, team first players who make plays when called upon and do everything they can to pick up their teammates when they need it the most.
A lot will be made this off-season about having to replace the likes of Nick Martin, Ronnie Stanley, and Sheldon Day (and possibly Keivarae Russell, Jaylon Smith, and/or CJ Prosise) but replacing Chris Brown and what he means to the Notre Dame offense will be be as simple as plugging in the next potential star wide receiver. It’s going to take a special player on and off the field to fill the shoes of Breezy in 2016.