Texarkana Texas HS
National Position Ranking: 9 (at DE) State Overall Ranking: 9 Star Rating: ****
An Inside Texas conversation with Texarkana head coach Barry Norton on Chris Brown:
IT: What are Chris's strengths as a football player?
Norton: He is a long, rangy kid. He's 6-3 and he's probably going to end up about 235-240. He's a real thin kid right now but he's so explosive in his movement and so fast and so quick that it's really amazing. And I think that's the thing, he can really, really run and he's long and rangy. That's his strength.
IT: What did the Texas coaches tell you that they like about Chris?
Norton: I talked to them and told them about him and Greg Robinson came up last spring and saw him and the day that he was here, we could hardly run a practice. We were in a team session and we couldn't block him in pass protection because he is so quick and he'd get around the corner off the edge so fast, and Greg told me that's what the NFL is looking for, a kid that is long and linear and with that great explosion that can run like that. He was the fastest guy on our football team last year and played defensive end! And the thing that I've told everybody about Chris, Chris will work out for a month at The University of Texas at 17 years old. He literally could play, if they were to have started him at school at the right time, he could play another year for me, so he's really, really young and his best football is ahead of him and his maturity physically is ahead of him. They've got a good one in Chris; he's a real talent.
IT: What was his playing weight for you guys?
Norton: About 210. Later in the season he may have gotten down to 205.
IT: You mentioned also that he's the fastest guy on the team...
Norton: He ran a 4.48 last spring and he ran 22.2 in the 200 meters in track. We may have missed (his 40 time) by a little bit, but not by much.
IT: What position did Texas recruit Chris to play?
Norton: Defensive end/linebacker. They're going to try him at linebacker with the thought that maybe -- what a lot of schools said was they'd play him at linebacker then on third down put his hand on the ground and rush the passer and I think Texas is going to look at him at linebacker and possibly defensive end.
IT: Projecting forward, do you see him better suited to either of the two positions over the other?
Norton: If he gets big enough, I think he can play defensive end, but I definitely know he can be big enough to play linebacker and I know he runs well enough. The biggest thing is going to be his transition from playing with his hand on the ground for the last several years to standing up and having to do a lot of pass drops and those things, but I see him able to do both because he is a real thin 210 pounds right now. After a good year of eating three good meals a day and in the weight room I can see him being 230-235 easy and still be able to carry his speed.
IT: How about his pass coverage?
Norton: He can run. We'd play seven-on-seven, and I'll never forget one ballgame, there was this one tall wide receiver kept hurting us and we were there watching -- we let our kids coach themselves because we can't do it -- and he went out there and grabbed the corner, said, 'I'll take him, you go play linebacker' and he went out there and played man-to-man on the guy and did a wonderful job. The guy didn't catch another ball, so he's athletic enough to get in coverage, he'll be able to drop in coverage, it's just going to be the transition on learning everything and learning where he fits and how to play the linebacker spot.
IT: What are the areas of his game that Chris needs to improve upon to be successful at the next level?
Norton: Just technique. The technique of whatever position he plays. We allowed Chris to freelance a lot because sometimes that's when he was at his best. But when he's having to play against guys that he'll play against in college, he's going to have to be a great technician to go along with (his physical abilities). But he was able to capitalize in high school a lot of times just on sheer speed. He's got to get better technique-wise at whatever he does because everybody is going to be as athletic as him and everybody is going to be as big or bigger, so I think that's what he's got to work on.
IT: What about his strength right now since he's such a lanky guy?
Norton: He's real strong lower body. Upper body he's got a little work to do. But his legs are really strong so he's got a lot of upper body strength to go on. He's in basketball right now, and I told him, as soon as basketball is over, he's going to get in the weight room and lift and lift and lift and he's going to lift till the day he drives off and goes to Austin.
IT: Is he the kind of guy that will work that hard in the offseason?
Norton: I think so. Chris has not ever been a weight room guy, so to speak, but he and I talked about it several times. He knows he's got to do that, he knows that he's got to get big and strong and I think he's committed to spending the spring trying to get stronger and he's going to run track to keep his speed where it is. He's got a lot of work to do, but he's got the potential to do it.
IT: Is Chris a leader, and if so, how does he lead?
Norton: He's a good one. Chris is a really a quiet kid by nature but real competitive, wants to win and I think that carries over to the rest of the guys. He has a burning desire to be the best and really wants to win and really gets frustrated when he doesn't. Luckily, we haven't lost too many around here.
IT: What did Chris mean to your football program?
Norton: I think he's the same as all of our guys, that going into this season, Chris knew that he was the guy already committed to The University of Texas and had been recruited by a lot of people, so Chris knew going in that all eyes were on him and he had to perform at a certain level and handle his business a certain way. He's always done a real good job on that. He's been excellent in the classroom and his teachers love him so he's always been a good role model for our younger kids in how to handle themselves in the classroom and how to work on the field.
IT: Is there anything you'd like to add about Chris that we didn't already cover?
Norton: I think one of the neat things about Chris through the years that we've had him is, he's been really, really good in the classroom and really strong in the classes. I've had teachers time after time call me about how good his work was or good in the classroom he was, so I know he gets to go to The University of Texas and get a degree and that's the main thing for me. I personally don't care if he ever plays a down other than I know he wants to. I want him to get a degree, I want him to get a T-Ring and I want him to be the best he can possibly be at The University of Texas.
Note from Clendon: As mentioned above, Chris is a very lanky kid, but he also has a big frame. Just from eyeballing him, I would agree with Coach Norton that Chris could easily put on a lot of weight yet remain lean, and thus have a good chance of keeping his speed. If that is the case, I'd expect to see Chris remain at linebacker. (And I seem to recall a linebacker with the initials D.J. that fit into that same size/speed category.)
NEXT UP: JAMAAL CHARLES