As soon as Erik Brown’s season ended, it began.
The Summit High School receiver didn’t have a scholarship offer when the No. 1 seed in the CIF-SS Central Division went down in the first round of the playoffs Nov. 9, 2012. Over a four month period beginning in February, he became one of the most sought after receivers in the country.
The pursuit ended last week when the 6-foot-2, 175-pound rising senior verbally committed to Washington, choosing the Huskies from nearly 30 scholarship offers that included UCLA, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Boise State and Oregon State.
“I knew it was coming,” Brown said. “I worked hard for this and it has been a blessing. It all happened really fast. I think I just got a chance to showcase what I can do when passing league came around.”
It has become commonplace for a player’s performance in the 7-on-7 circuit to effect his recruitment, but there is nothing common about the speed of Brown’s ascent. After leading Summit with a modest 21 receptions for 305 yards and three touchdowns his junior year, Brown hit the ground running on the passing league scene in the spring.
He began as an unranked three-star prospect and is currently a four-star recruit rated the eighth best player in California and the 16th best receiver in the nation, according to rivals.com.
“He just didn’t get a lot of touches last year with all of our running backs and we had trouble getting the ball to him deep because of our quarterback’s arm strength,” Summit coach Cesar Villalobos said. “He’s had the physical attributes. He just needed a chance to showcase them.”
Of course, before any colleges made him offers, a multitude of 7-on-7 teams were recruiting Brown. Armond Hawkins and Anthony Brown, coaches of Ground Zero, made his decision easy. Before Brown even agreed to join their team, the duo solicited offers from Houston and Nevada on the same day using Brown’s game film and track statistics.
Once Brown began to emerge at camps and passing league tournaments, larger conferences began to take notice. Boise State was his school of choice until a bevy of Pac-12 offers including Washington, Oregon State and UCLA. Brown was so taken by UCLA, he nearly pledged his loyalty to the Bruins on the spot when they offered him during an unofficial visit March 20.
“I almost committed to UCLA without even talking to my parents or anything,” Brown said. “I didn’t go into this summer with a plan for when I was going to commit or how I was going to handle it. I was just taking it all in as it was happening. And then the recruiting went national.”
Nebraska offered May 23 and Notre Dame June 2 in a final wave of offers as Brown reached the pinnacle of his performance on the passing league circuit. Options the likes of Vanderbilt and Missouri were also on the table.
Brown wrestled a top six down to two: UCLA and Washington. Before spending the first three days of July at The Opening, the premier invitational summer camp featuring the top 162 prospects in the country, he visited Washington for the school’s rising stars camp.
“Once I saw for myself what it was like up there, I knew that was where I wanted to be,” Brown said. “I really developed a close relationship with the coaches and I just knew Washington was the place.”
Brown is the most sought after prospect at Summit since his cousin, Devon Blackmon, a receiver from the class of 2011 who could land at Washington too. Blackmon, who transferred from Oregon to Riverside City College following last season, intends to transfer back to an FBS school, perhaps the same as Brown.
“That’s something we’ve talked about if it got to the point where we could do that,” Brown said. “I was going to commit to Washington regardless, but Washington is high on (Blackmon) too and it would be awesome to play on the same team with each other.”