Justin Brown, WR (6-foot-3, 210 pounds)
If there is one thing that stands out with Justin Brown among practice observers it's his size. "He's really put together — an imposing build and nice size," one observer explained.
A true freshman, Brown has only been in the program a short time since arriving on campus mid-summer.
According to another observer, "He fits the mold physically that [the coaches] are looking for in certain receivers — good height, strong and quick."
With the departure of Derrick Williams, Jordan Norwood and Deon Butler to the Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns and Seattle Seahawks respectively, position coach Mike McQueary and the offesive staff are looking to their young wideouts to provide depth to veteran targets like Brett Brackett and Graham Zug. Does Brown fit the bill at this early stage?
Physique: Said to be a "legitimate" 6-foot-3, Brown's size and overall physical build appear to be his biggest assets in his game. Since his arrival this alone has turned some heads, with one observer saying, "These young players keep arriving bigger and bigger. You have guys like the [Gerald] Hodges and [Justin] Brown kids and they look to be already in solid shape when they step on campus. I guess that is a testament to our recruiting."
Speed: Although was held out of some summer runs due to a minor injury, he quickly got into the conditioning routine and is described as "deceptively quick" for his size. With high 4.4-range 40-yard dash speed, observers feel this is a good complement to his size to make him "potentially a fantastic target."
Hands: Although Brown has shown a propensity to pull in passes, "he's got some catching up to do with (fellow freshmen) [Curtis] Drake and [Shawney] Kersey," both of whom have received strong reviews for their receiving skills so far. Observers do not feel Brown is that far behind, but as one observer said, "he needs to get comfortable with everything since he seems to over-think his play at times."
Routes: The consensus is that, given that the freshmen have only been with their playbooks a short time, they really are not in a position to run great routes. "When coaches have a set route drill — say hit an inside post on a 20-yard run — he's done well. He seems to be sharp on hitting his distance. Some guys will hit 18 yards or 21 yards on a 20 run. That screws up the timing," as one observer explained.
Technique: Observers feel that Brown gets off the line strong, but is working on his separation technique. "They'll have him and all the rookies practice creating a cushion to provide a bigger window for the quarterbacks to deliver the ball to." Brown seems to have shown good feet, though, and decent body control early on.
Impact: Currently focused on his hands, his technique and of course getting the plays down, by most accounts, Brown seems to have a great physical foundation to build from with impressive speed and precise runs. He's in the middle of a seemingly tough battle with Kersey and Drake for a chance to help fill out the receiver depth and make an early impact. "The issue he may have going against him right now is that with Brackett (6-6), [Derek] Moye (6-5) and Zug (6-2), the coaches have nice size to work with. They may be looking for a smaller, more speedy type target to change things up. We'll see."
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