Broward County Bravehearts; Marquise Brown

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Broward County Bravehearts; Marquise Brown
Oklahoma's Marquise Brown, from Broward County, Florida. (Photo courtesy Caitlyn Epes/The Daily)

College football is less than two months away and now is a perfect time to reintroduce Broward County. South Florida has long been a recruiting hot bed for collegiate programs, all roaming Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. For this series though, the focus remains on Broward County and the abundance of talent that is produced annually.

Broward County Bravehearts; Marquise Brown

The first to be featured this season is Marquise Brown of the Big 12 champion Oklahoma Sooners. Brown is from Hollywood, Florida which is ironic because that just so happens to be his newfound nickname. Before being coined as ‘Hollywood’ most knew Marquise as ‘Jets’ due to his speed. His journey to this point started unfolding as a high school senior at Chaminade-Madonna high school, home of former NFL star Jon Beason.

The Journey

As a high school prospect it’s tough to say Brown was a can’t miss prospect because many colleges wrote him off due to his slight size. As a high school senior, he played at around 125 pounds which definitely would not pass the eyeball test. With that being said, Brown had enough talent and ability to gauge the interest of some FBS programs. The size versus talent factors ultimately cancel each other out, but Brown had another negative going against him; academics. He wasn’t necessarily a bad student, but he did not receive a qualifying collegiate entrance score until May.

The issue with that is National Signing day is in February, historically speaking, most colleges are not willing to waste a potential scholarship on a player that may not be admitted into their school. Couple that with Brown’s slender frame and many division one schools looked elsewhere. Utah State was the lone FBS school interested and they moved on because of these concerns.

Connecting Flight

With his mind set on playing D1 football even after, Brown decided to take an alternate route. That Fall semester would be one where Marquise Brown wasn’t on the roster of any team. He was home, but his love for the game was burning even stronger so much so that he would take a risk. Brown decided that in the spring he would enroll at College of the Canyons, a junior college in California.

When most people hear of junior college football, they think of LastChanceU the Netflix series and East Mississippi Community College. As rough as that may have looked, there are certain amenities that EMCC has that most junior college’s in California would love to have. The first would be dorms, the California Community College Athletic Association is comprised of 68 schools. Within that number only seven are schools that even have the luxury of having dorms available for their students. So if you attend a school that doesn’t have dorms, more than likely you are searching for an apartment to live in. Remember this is pricey California.

CCCAA policy also prohibits athletic scholarships, another luxury that junior college’s outside of California have. For Brown this meant he would have to cover any fees not covered by financial aid and student loans. Even knowing all of this, Brown made up his mind and also convinced his mother to allow him to go to California. Once he arrived he worked at Six Flags to help pay bills but he continued chasing his dream.

California Love

Once football season drew near coaches started seeing how special of a player they had within Brown. It didn’t take long for the rest of the teams to start noticing either. After scoring a touchdown in the first game, his second game would be a coming out party. In just his second game brown caught five passes for over 150 yards and three touchdowns. The speed that he was known for would also be on display when he returned a kickoff for an 84 yard touchdown. Just three games into the season, Brown’s highlight tape was making its way around and teams started pouring in with scholarship offers. Schools such as the University of Southern California, Oklahoma and West Virginia all began recruiting the speedster.

In the end, Brown made the decision to sign with Oklahoma after finishing with over 1,400 all purpose yards and 12 touchdowns. What was once a negative turned out to work out in his favor. Before leaving high school, Brown received a qualifying score which would allow him to enroll at Oklahoma the next semester. Within a year Brown’s life went from not being in school to playing division one football.

New Kid On The Block

Baker Mayfield remembered seeing Marquise Brown for the first time and thinking he needed to gain some more weight. He arrived at Oklahoma weighing 144 pounds and facing a higher level of competition than junior college. In the spring game he only had two catches for eight yards and none of the downfield attempts were successful.

The season arrived and Brown was a rotational player. He would make his debut in the season opener against UTEP. With a big lead, a couple plays were called his way and he finished with three catches for 32 yards. The next week Oklahoma faced the number two ranked, Ohio State Buckeyes, and Brown didn’t get to play at all. After not having a role the previous week, Brown once again showed why he was sought after with an 84 yard reception in the fourth quarter. However the roller coast continued against Baylor the following game when Brown had a critical fumble in the win.

Birth of ‘Hollywood’

Those who watched the Bedlam rivalry between Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State, all remember announcer Gus Johnson’s yelling after every big play from Marquise Brown. It was that game when the rest of the world saw the emergence of “Hollywood”. He stole the show with a nine reception 265 yard performance in which he scored two touchdowns, breaking the Oklahoma school record for receiving yards in a game. Now that game was his most famous but the nickname actually came during the fourth quarter of Kansas State game.

What the Oklahoma State game did do was raise Brown’s profile nationally, the call on the play went viral and instantly everyone in the country wanted to know Brown. Including the announcer from the game, Gus Johnson.

The added attention only made Brown continue to make more plays. Sports Illustrated completed a story on the meteoric rise from a Six Flags worker to being a playmaker for the Sooners. As fate would have it, the Sooners playoff game would be in the Rose Bowl, in the same state in which Brown got his chance to prove his self. In what ended up being a classic game, the Sooners lost but Brown made his mark. Playing against childhood friend, Riley Ridley that once lived on the same street, ‘Hollywood’ finished with a game high eight catches for 114 yards and a touchdown.

Looking Ahead

As for next season Brown returns with all eyes ready to witness his talents. He’s already made numerous publications for preseason All-American lists, as well as watchlists for national awards. Even with that he has stayed true to the formula which got him to this point, working out with All-Pro wideout Antonio Brown during trips back in Florida. Much progress has been made in a short time in Hollywood’s development, his weight is also approaching 170 pounds. His story serves as motivation for many up and coming athlete’s as to how far belief in your ability can take you, even when doubted. With another successful year Brown could definitely be in gracing the NFL stage next draft, as he becomes draft eligible.

 

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