Richie Brown holds two

The Magnolia State has come up roses for the Cardinal in the past. Witness linebacker Johnathan Frink, who the Card pulled out of Oxford, mere minutes from the Ole Miss campus in 2007. Now, Stanford's back at it again, targeting another linebacker for its 2012 recruiting class.

"Right now it's Stanford and Mississippi State," Richie Brown told The Bootleg. "I've heard from other people, but that's the only two offers."

Brown has indeed attracted interest from plenty of local programs. He reports in-state Ole Miss and Southern Miss are in regular, heavy contact with him, he has a visit planned to Tennessee, and Miami, LSU and Arkansas State will be among the schools visiting his Long Beach High for spring ball.

"I'm excited, I can't wait," Brown said of the pending attention. "Some are going to my track meets."

Indeed, the two-sport athlete starts on the track and on the field within it.

"I run the 100, the 200 the 4x1, the 4x2 and the long jump," he said.

We asked Brown for some of his PRs, and it became obvious that his combination of speed and his 6- foot-2, 222-pound frame is a big part of the reason college coaches want him on their campuses come next September.

"In the 100, an 11.0," Brown said of his personal best. "In the 200, I think a 22.7 or a 22.6, and 22 ft for the long jump."

We cheated and foreshadowed a little bit, for it is precisely that speed and size that makes Brown stand out.

"I'll most likely be an OLB [in college], that's what I'm guessing," the current junior said. "I have speed and size too, I have both of them to offer. The OLB is more of a speed position, because you do some covering too. Wherever I'm put is where I'll give it."

That openness to playing anywhere on the field is something The Bootleg is hearing from a lot of Stanford's 2012 recruits, certainly more so than in previous recruiting classes. Stanford's coaches are likely going to have a lot of flexibility then in 2012 and 2013 to try to juggle their talent to craft the best team they can, without worrying about upsetting chemistry or individual players.

But back to Brown. Stanford was his second offer, he reports, with the hometown Bulldogs, fresh off a 52-14 Gator Bowl shellacking of Michigan, first to jump.

"MSU offered in February, the 17th," Brown said. "I didn't see that coming actually. I thought Ole Miss or Southern [would offer] before [the Bulldogs], I had been to an Ole Miss game. But I bumped into Coach Mullen, and I guess I passed the eye test."

Rare for Mississippi natives, Brown didn't report a childhood favorite between the Egg Bowl rivals.

"I grew up a nobody guy, completely neutral," he said. My only football favorite is the Saints. A lot of my family likes LSU, my dad went to Southern [Miss], my mom went to Florida State. But other than that, I haven't had a favorite."

With YouTube and Facebook among the ways the Cardinal have discovered 2012 prospects and started the offer process, it was decidedly old-fashioned – snail mail and telephones – when the Cardinal decided to offer the Mississippi ‘backer.

"For Stanford's offer, I got a letter from them the said "important" on the outside," Brown explained. "They gave me their number, so I called the coach and they said they would like to verbally extend me their highest level of commitment. I was not sure if that was offer or not, but they reassured me that was an offer and I talked to them for awhile. I'm planning on hopefully visiting, if I can get some money. Maybe going up there in May or the summertime, and if not [an official, expenses-paid] senior trip is an option too."

Brown identifies three Stanford coaches who have tried, with varying degrees of success, to reach out to him.

"I talked to Coach Lance [Anderson], and I tried to call Coach Shaw but I didn't get a hold of him. "But I've talked to Coach Anderson a few times. I'll probably call back to catch up pretty soon. I tried calling the other linebacker coach Jason Tarver, but never got a hold of him. I got the wrong number."

The crossed wires (or cell phone towers in this day and age) probably don't help Stanford's cause, but one factor in the Cardinal's corner is that distance won't hurt Stanford.

"It doesn't really matter to me," Brown said of the 2,263 miles between his hometown Long Beach, Miss. and Palo Alto. "It's all about the school and its program, how I feel about coaches, staff and atmosphere of the team, and how they play."

How does he think his two offering schools play?

"MSU, it's a really high-tempo defense," Brown said of Mississippi State, which lost DC Manny Diaz to Texas this offseason and is now led by Chris Wilson. "Their practices are real intense. They make sure you're hustling to the whistle on every play and there's no slacking. That stood out."

"Stanford, I watched them and the two-way fullback/linebacker, I can't remember his name, but he was awesome," Brown said of Owen Marecic, who finished 10th in the quest for last year's Heisman Trophy. (Toby Gerhart and Andrew Luck, meanwhile, have been consecutive runners-up to Mark Ingram and Cam Newton the past two seasons.) "I loved watching him play. That's exactly what I did last year, play fullback and linebacker last year, so I connected with him well."

Stanford does envision Brown primarily on the defensive side of the ball.

"They were saying they really liked me as a linebacker and thought I could play all four ‘backer positions," Brown said. "I'm real excited for them to come down and see me, and for me to get up there. In the letter, they were talking about what you can do there, beat Notre Dame and all these other schools, and then study with a Nobel Prize winner the next day. I thought that was funny and interesting."

"It's really the atmosphere and style of how they play," Brown said of his ongoing evaluation of Stanford. Kind of academically, I'm looking to go into science or engineering, and I know Stanford, they told me about a science, engineering and business management class, kind of taste of all three and what I'm going into. [Perhaps a class in the Management, Science & Engineering or Science, Technology and Society majors, both of which have attracted scores of football players in recent years.] That's interesting and I might look into it when I go up there. Also, how they're going to help me progress and get better, and possibly help me make it to the next level."

"Lord" Vic Fangio implemented a 3-4 in a historic turnaround of the Stanford defense, and new co- defensive coordinator Derek Mason looks likely to keep that same scheme heading into fall. The 4-3 is more common at both the college and pro levels, but Brown says a 3-4 doesn't faze him.

"It's not a big deal," he said. "We ran a 4-3 last year, and I'm not sure about this year. Whatever's going to clear it at the line so I can go and make a tackle. I like to be in on every tackle.

As Brown intimated earlier, Stanford coach(es) have promised him they'll come out this month.

"I think it is that they're coming down some time during spring practice," he said. "I'm not sure for one of my track meets or the spring game or practice, they didn't specify, but I know they're coming down in April. I think Coach Anderson [will be coming]."

Brown's Southern manners come across loud and clear, constantly referring to this 24-year old reporter as "sir" in a phone interview, for example. Similarly, it's hard to find an area of this country more emblematic of the South than Long Beach. Still, as recent years have demonstrated, Stanford recruiting bows to no continental divide or Mason-Dixon line, and the Cardinal will try to close on Richie Brown in the months to come.

From the Magnolia State to the Golden State, from Long Beach to, well, Long Beach, the Bootleg has you covered, and we appreciate your ongoing readership.

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