Max Browne Breaks it Down

SAMMAMISH, Wash. - It's rare when one high school produces two quarterbacks worthy of being the No. 1 rated QB in the country, and it's even rarer when that school is tucked away in the Northwest. Welcome to Skyline High, where players like Jake Heaps and Max Browne have put their football program on the national landscape...

Browne watched Heaps win a state title when he got to Skyline, and duplicated the feat last year as a junior. He's started 28 games before his senior season, throwing for over 8000 yards and nearly 100 touchdowns. It's been a dream career, and he's not done.

"I've been blessed, but it's gone by fast," Browne recently told after a Spartans' off-season workout where the quarterback was one of the first to arrive and definitely the last to leave. When you are a 2012 team captain, it's expected. When you are's No. 1 quarterback for the class of 2013, the bar gets raised even higher.

"I'm going to stand pat; they are two totally different players and two totally different quarterbacks," Skyline Head Coach Mat Taylor said when asked to compare the two No. 1 quarterbacks that also just happened to be Spartans under his watch. "His leadership - and not to say Jake wasn't a good leader - but I've never been around a kid that commands as much presence as he does and respect from his teammates. He has the work ethic of Jake. He can make all the throws. He can throw that change-up over the linebacker; he can fire it when he needs to and he can throw it with touch to the running backs."

Browne is clearly a veteran when it comes to high school football; he was verbally offered a scholarship by the local program - the University of Washington - and 14 offers later, the 6-foot-5, 200-pound signal caller is also a veteran of the recruiting process. In fact, the UCLA Bruins were the last to offer Browne, and he found out right before the workout in question.

"I'm lucky that I've been in the process long enough - I got offered my first scholarship right after my freshman year - so I've been in it long enough to know when a school feels right and what I like about the process and the people involved," he said. "I feel like I'll be able to make a good choice when it comes down to it."

There's no question Browne has some unbelievable choices, and he recently checked one of those choices out unofficially with his father Mike. The Brownes didn't go to Oklahoma as part of a Junior Day or anything else; as far as the Sooners were concerned, March in Oklahoma could be renamed Max Browne Month.

"I was really excited when I got that offer," Browne said of the Sooners. "I was able to meet with coach (Josh) Heupel before I got the offer and get a good connection with him. Once I got the offer I knew I had to check it out, whether I was going to like it or not. It's not close and it's not west coast per se, but it is a power. On paper they've had Landry Jones, Jason White, and Sam Bradford…and then coach Heupel himself. The quarterback tradition there is good.

"The offense they run is similar to the offense we run at Skyline. Even some of the verbiage is the same, which is kind of cool and a good fit."

So what took place during his visit to Norman? "I got there and it's different - but not in a bad way at all," Browne said. "I enjoyed it. Sometimes when you go on these trips, you get the city life and the urban deal. But some schools, you get the college town - and that's what Oklahoma falls under.

"They definitely rolled out the red carpet for me. I was able to meet all the coaches and players, the facility tours. It's definitely top-notch; you can tell they definitely take pride in their football and it was definitely a cool trip. They showed me how the Sooners go after it."

With offers in hand from Alabama, Washington, Oregon State, California, UCLA, USC, Washington State, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah, Wisconsin, Clemson, Auburn, Alabama, and Oklahoma - as well as the fact that he hasn't ruled anyone out yet, Browne still has plenty of places to check out. But as of now, he doesn't have a lot of things set in stone. Right now it's all about making sure the Spartans are taking care of their business in the off-season, and to that end he's leading team workouts in the evening at least three times a week with co-captains Nic Sblendorio, Peyton Pelluer and Trevor Barney.

Browne did say that he's talking about taking another unofficial visit to USC and also to Washington for a facilities tour. "I talked to coach (Doug) Nussmeier down at Alabama, and I might head down there now," he said of the former UW Offensive Coordinator. "But it's nothing for sure right now; I have to sit down with my parents and talk that over."

Digging a little deeper into the Oklahoma visit, it's obvious the offense run by Heupel and Jay Norvell has a lot in common with the spread style that Browne has run under the tutelage of Skyline Head Coach Mat Taylor.

"They run that pro style, spread offense," he said of the Sooners. "I'm not really looking at schools where I have to twist my arm to fit in their style. All the schools, they are going to fit around my needs and all that stuff - so it's a good fit there."

When asked, Browne noted that there are a few other schools that are good fits when it comes to the type of offense they run. "Oklahoma would be a good fit right away, but other schools like the pro style stuff and could be a better fit later on," he said. "U-Dub has more spread stuff; you've got USC and Oregon State - they all kind of run that spread deal. It's just a matter of time. It might take a few months under center to get used to it, but that's what I practice all off-season. So I have no problem getting under center, so I can succeed in spread and pro style offenses equally."

Browne reiterated that offense is 'just one factor' of his working list of requisites when choosing the right college for him. At the very top would be the relationships formed with the coaches and players. Can he see himself working side-by-side with the coaches on a daily basis and be friends with the players off the field? That will be crucial.

Second is the college experience. "Would I want to be a student there?" Browne queried. "Would I want to go there on a day-to-day basis? Football is only a small part of it when you sign your name on the dotted line.

"Does it feel right? Is the area right?"

And all of those questions go into the hopper as Browne plays the recruiting equivalent of musical chairs, trying to find the perfect fit for him while other quarterbacks in his class are doing the same thing at the same time, and making decisions at the same time too. When a quarterback makes a verbal commit - like when Ryan Burns committed to Stanford or Jared Goff to California - the number of chairs shrinks.

So in a sense, quarterbacks feel the pinch even more than any other position on the field because there is typically only one taken at that position per class. So if you like a school and they offer multiple players for that lone spot, you can easily lose out before you know what happened.

"It's definitely there," Browne said of the pressure to make an early decision because of this 'musical chairs' phenomenon. "I'm lucky enough to have a lot of great offers and a lot of great schools, and if the school truly does fit for me, then they'll wait for Max Browne to be ready. But the process does speed up for quarterbacks. They are front and center of the recruiting class of every school you go to."

Advice from his family is helping Max get comfortable in reaching a decision that might feel rushed for most. "My Dad was saying this; you visit a school in March - and then you might visit them two or three more times, but what has changed? Not much," he said. "You might as well pull the trigger while you know what's ahead of you and then you can help build a great recruiting class around you."

So expect Browne to pull the trigger and make a commitment before his senior season as Skyline, whether that be in the summer or even earlier.

"He's very, very focused and driven for his senior year," said Taylor. "And that's the one neat thing about what we've got going on at Skyline - we have so many kids that have grown up in our youth system and our community and can't wait to put that Spartan helmet on and wear the green and silver. Here's a kid that's been watching this since his brother won a state championship in 2000. He was in the stands; he knew all the stats for all the kids on his brother's team when he was a five-year old up in the stands. That's what fun for him; this is important to him."

Make no mistake; when Max Browne does make his eventual decision, it'll be equally as important, and it'll be done with the idea of competing for a starting position right away. He'll be graduating early for precisely that reason.

"It makes too much sense to pass it up," Browne said. "I don't think I'll miss my prom much."

That being said, common sense would dictate the first school to offer Browne - Washington - would be out of the picture. Not only did the Huskies sign's No. 1 QB class for 2012 with two elite players - Jeff Lindquist and Cyler Miles - but UW will have four quarterbacks in the mix for the No. 1 QB spot in 2013, including Keith Price - who by that time would be in line for his third year as a starter. But Browne hasn't eliminated the Huskies, and in fact is still very much considering them. And in looking at Sarkisian's record of stockpiling quarterbacks at USC during his time there as a quarterbacks coach and Offensive Coordinator, it really shouldn't come as a great surprise.

"You'd rather have no one be there, but you're going to have to compete no matter where you go - and I understand that," he said. "That's just the nature of the business. They love me a ton, but they have to do what's best for the University of Washington, and not just for one recruit down the line. But you're going to have to go compete everywhere. People say it, and it's true; I believe it, whether it's one guy or two guys, or two guys a grade above you or guys coming behind you. It's a factor not too many think about, but it's reality. It's just one of those factors in the recruiting process that schools have or don't have.

"(Washington Head) Coach (Steve) Sarkisian is a great head coach and probably one of the best head coaches to recruit me throughout this process. He looks me straight in the eye and tells me that he loves me, he loves the way I throw the ball and everything involved. But I know the score; U-Dub had to get a great quarterback, and they got two great ones. I know Jeff (Lindquist) well and Cyler (Miles), I went to a camp with - they are in great hands. They were MVP's of their All-Star games."

And whether it's Washington, Oklahoma, USC or another program - they are getting a heck of a football player and person in Max Browne.

"The biggest thing with Max is that he works so hard," Taylor said. "He doesn't miss the weight room sessions at all. He's becoming an even better leader, and he's probably one of the best leaders that I've been around as a head coach. Every day in the weight room, you see his leadership; the kids feed off of him. It's such an underestimated trait in a quarterback - everybody talks about how they throw the ball and the skills and the mindset and how their reads are, but he's such a great leader."

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