Pope John's Noah Brown enjoys a big week
By PETER STEIN
VH1 has a show called "Best Week Ever". Perhaps this week's episode should include Pope John junior Noah Brown, because if this wasn't his ‘best week ever', it had to be pretty darned close.
Last Saturday, Brown was named offensive MVP at the prestigious Rivals 100 football combine at Piscataway High School. Then on Monday, Brown received a football scholarship offer from Notre Dame, increasing his list of offers to 15.
Best week ever, indeed.
"Noah was on the board with everybody," Pope John's head football coach Brian Carlson said of the widespread Division I interest in the running back-receiver. "The Rivals thing just helped solidify that the kid's a good player."
"The Rivals camp went well," said Brown, who was joined at the combine by Pope John teammates Ryan Izzo and Noa Merritt. "A lot of top talent on the East Coast was there. There were even some people from Tennessee and California. Me and Ryan and Noa, we did real well. I ended up coming up with the (offensive skill player) MVP, so that was definitely a plus. It was definitely good to see that I could compete with the top players."
The Rivals 100 combine should be familiar to most football fans, if not from the name alone, then from how it's run. "It's a lot like the NFL combine," Carlson said. "They test him with the jumps and runs, they throw the ball to him. ... Similar to practice drills — one-on-one drills, getting off the press, getting off man coverage."
"It was position drills, mainly," Brown said. "No contact or anything like that. It was one-on-ones and stuff like that. It was easy."
With those drills, Brown was impressive enough to gain MVP status. "I wouldn't say I was surprised," Brown said. "I thought I performed pretty well. I was pretty prepared for the event. I was definitely glad I got MVP.
"I definitely think it will help me with some exposure," Brown added. "There were no college coaches there, but just exposure-wise, it'll definitely help. And it's a confidence-booster for me to see that I came out on top against some of the top
prospects. ... I definitely learned a lot. They had a great coaching staff there. They taught me a lot of stuff with my routes."
Two days later, there was more good news, when Brown was offered a chance to play for the Fighting Irish.
"That's huge," Brown said. "That's one of the biggest programs around the country, so if you get an offer from them, it's an eye-opener, really. It shows that my hard work's paying off. When some of the top programs consider me worthy of a scholarship, it's definitely an honor."
Brown says Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly didn't recruit him directly. It was instead assistant head coach Bob Diaco. "He came to the (Pope John) school," Brown said. "Any my coach (Carlson) told me to call him afterwards, so I called him, and that's when they offered me."
The offers are rolling in regularly for Brown, as they are for the junior tight end Izzo, who landed squarely on the Division I map in March, when he received an offer from Virginia Tech, and is now up to 12 offers, including one from Michigan State this week. A representative from Virginia was in to visit both players on Wednesday.
Freshman quarterback Sonny Abramson has two offers — from Rutgers and South Florida — and the junior Merritt, a standout defensive lineman, has an offer from Western Michigan, but is expecting more.
Some of the interest is due to Carlson and his staff being proactive, but Carlson says their task isn't too daunting. "It's easy to market when you've got good family, good school and the kids can play football," Carlson said. "At the college level, not only do they want the right football players, they want the right kids."
Carlson says the scouts' personal visits also make a difference.
"They see Izzo," Carlson said. "They say, ‘Wow, that kid is 6-6, not 6-3', and ‘Noah Brown is a good kid.'"