BEAVERTON, Ore. - Baron Browning isn't much for comparisons.
Normally the five-star linebacker from Kennedale, Texas, brushes off the natural references to past players when others review his own game. Then again, when Notre Dame assistant Mike Elston started talking about Jaylon Smith, Browning paid attention.
“I kinda took it like a grain of salt I guess you could say,” Browning said Friday from The Opening Finals. “I’m not a big hype guy. They compared me to him but I know I’m my own person. I’m mostly worried about being the best me that I can. Obviously, it’s an honor to be compared to him but at the end of the day I’m really focused on doing just some of the things he did.”
Elston showed Browning how he could fit into Smith’s old role when the former visited campus for the first time during Irish Invasion last month.
Browning stayed for a couple days on campus with his older brother Barry, a former Stanford defensive back, around the camp event. He also visited Michigan during the same swing.
Notre Dame rolled out everything from film review of where Browning could fit into defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder’s scheme to academic presentations. Brian Kelly also touched base to talk about the program.
“Talking to coach Kelly, he said it’s not really a hard sale pitch for ND,” Browning said. “It’s almost one of those decisions, do you really wanna come here or not? Pretty much the brand speaks for itself.”
Browning gave the trip strong enough reviews to plan to return. He’s targeting an official visit during the Oct. 15 weekend, which coincides with the primetime game against Stanford.
“I had a good time at ND,” Browning said. “I would say it went better than I expected it to go because I didn’t really know what to expect. I’d never really been to the Midwest except when I visited Ohio State. So, I didn’t really know what to expect going up to ND and Michigan. I’d say both those visits went better than I expected them to. I really had a great time.”
Browning is planning other official visits as well. He listed Alabama, Ohio State and UCLA as other potential destinations. Right now the plan is to announce on Nov. 29, his father’s birthday.
Sooner than later, Browning plans to narrow from a top 10 to six.
“My mom and dad always instilled in me that getting the degree is more important than playing football,” Browning said. “With those six, I can get a good degree from and they can help me as far as networking-wise, meeting people there, jobs after football. Just a good brand itself.”