Max Browne suggests the joke with his high school coaching staff is that he’s so engulfed in football and details, he can recite the names of all 22 starters from when his brother led Skyline (Wash.) High School to a state title in 2000 – several of which are staff assistants.
Five-star Class of 2013 quarterback Max Browne threw for more than 4,000 yards in 2011 and is 247Sports' Offensive Player of the Year for the Class of 2013.
“It’s like your little trick,” Browne said.
Yes, except it shouldn’t necessarily qualify as a joke. Browne can indeed rattle them off.
So to be accurate, it’s more a peculiar talent.
Which may just be the apt description for 247Sports’ Class of 2013 Offensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound quarterback is supremely talented, exemplified through his rare blend of coveted size, strong arm and impressive accuracy.
Browne is one of 10 prospects in next year’s class to have already earned five-star designation from 247Sports. The Sammamish, Wash., resident is ranked No. 6 overall in the Top247 and the top quarterback, carrying a 98 rating.
“He has really got it all – size, production, strength – from all those things you look for on the surface of a quarterback, Max Browne’s got it,” 247Sports national analyst Barton Simmons said. “He’s athletic and plays basketball, too. And he can make all the throws. He’s not just a kid who’s going to chuck deep balls or just dink-and-dunk you. He can make throws outside the pocket, he can make throws with the rush coming.
“We’re anxious to watch him develop over the next year because the initial returns make us think he has the chance to be one of the elite quarterbacks we’ve seen in several years.”
Six schools have offered Browne: California, Washington, Wisconsin, Colorado, Clemson and Utah.
That list will expand exponentially as elite programs visit, scout film or merely measure their chances. Oklahoma has been by Skyline during the recent contact period. Stanford plans to return soon, and UCLA, California and Washington State are expected among the visitors as well.
Skyline uses a shotgun, four-wide offense that certainly gives Browne plenty of opportunities to showcase his skills.
As a junior, Browne threw for 4,031 yards, 45 touchdowns (to seven interceptions) and completed 70 percent of his passes in leading the Spartans to the 4A state championship.
As a sophomore in his first year as starter, the numbers were nearly identical: 4,182 passing yards, 68.3 completion percentage, 50 touchdowns, 13 interceptions.
“I’m not necessarily going to beat Mike Vick in a 40-yard dash, and while I feel like my feet are good, I can work on that,” Browne said. “I want to be more consistent on every throw I make. I want to make sure every throw I make in the pocket, I gather my feet and make sure my shoulders are even. I know when I’m going to throw a bad ball because it doesn’t come out of my hand right. I’ve played a lot and see a lot already, so it’s about fine-tuning my mechanics and making sure I’m a good leader this offseason.”
The toughest part in evaluating Browne may simply be avoiding the convenience of profiling him on pedigree alone.
It has somehow been more than two decades since another tall, strong-armed pocket passer – eventual No. 1 NFL pick Drew Bledsoe – emerged from another Washington town 100 miles east. He’s drawn comparisons to the West Coast’s latest pro-style star, USC’s Matt Barkeley.
Browne trains in the offseason with former Washington Huskies standout Taylor Barton. His predecessor at Skyline is Jake Heaps, who transferred to Kansas this month after being displaced as BYU’s starter last season.
The latter two have invariably impacted Browne in some measure.
But the greater motivational influence appears to be that of being the youngest of four brothers.
His oldest brother, Mitch, who had an accomplished career in leading Skyline to the aforementioned state championship in 2000.
There seems to be no shortage of stories about Max’s fortitude being shaped by the will to keep up with his older brothers – Mitch, 29; Marcus, 26; and Michael, 23 -- in athletic ventures.
“When I was younger and went to my brothers’ games, my parents wouldn’t let me bring any friends because I was the only one who could sit still,” Browne said. “They’d make me take naps after school so I’d be able to stay up that night for his games. My brothers are still the biggest influences on my life today, and I thank them for it.
“My biggest motivation was always being the Skyline quarterback. I always dreamed of being Peyton Manning and that kind of stuff, but what I really wanted was to be my like brother when I was 16, 17.”
This Washington apple hasn’t fallen far from his quarterback tree.
Rather, it looks the shiniest in its crop.