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November 20, 2008

Season recap: C.J. Brown

When Seneca Valley (Pa.) football coach Ron Butschle thinks back on quarterback C.J. Brown’s senior season, his mind drifts to the Raiders’ Week 2 game against Erie McDowell.

Playing before a raucous home crowd and regional television audience, Brown, a Maryland commitment, led the Raiders to a 38-33 win. He went 25-of-37 for 305 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while also rushing for 80 yards and three scores on 19 carries.

“[It was a] Thursday night game on Fox Sports Net, their game of the week on TV,” Butschle said. “We had lost our first game by a field goal. We didn’t play very well in our first game. [The game against Erie McDowell] was a high-scoring game. C.J. just kind of took us on his back. We were up and we were down. Every time they would score, we would score. ... The Erie McDowell game was probably his best game. It was the first game where he really came out as a leader.”

Seneca Valley finished 4-5 on the year. Butschle said the defense, which replaced 10 starters from a year ago, had a tough time stopping more physical teams. But Brown kept the team competitive by leading a dynamic Raiders offense.

Brown, 6-3, 200 pounds, completed 149 passes on 269 attempts, throwing for 2,154 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also ran for 640 yards and 12 touchdowns on 131 carries. Brown accounted for all but seven of Seneca Valley’s touchdowns on the season.

“When teams looked at our offense, they had to prepare for C.J.,” Butschle said. “He was just head and shoulders above everybody else on the field athletically. The way he handled pressure, escaping pressure; he took some shots this year. He’s an awfully tough kid. He didn’t miss a down. He got his bell rung, but he didn’t miss one play. He ran the ball an awful lot, too. He was our leading rusher. ... I believe during the spring he ran a 4.5 down at Maryland. C.J. is football fast, although he’d probably be track fast, too. There were a couple times he just kicked to another gear and just pulled away from people.”

Brown received a lot of attention from the local media during the early parts of the season. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called Brown one of Western Pennsylvania’s next great quarterbacks. But Butschle said the press didn’t faze Brown.

“C.J. handles pressure very, very well,” Butschle said. “The college game is obviously a completely different animal. I think there are some kids built, physically and mentally, for that transition. I definitely think C.J. is built for that. He doesn’t get real wide-eyed. He gets excited about playing. But he was never a kid coming off the sidelines hyperventilating or pissed off. He’s very level headed, very coachable in practice and during the games. He responded well to adjustments made at halftime or on the fly. His demeanor and ability are two things that are going to translate into success at Maryland.”

When Brown committed to Maryland in April, Akron was his only other scholarship offer. Right after the start of Brown’s big senior season, other schools began to inquire, namely Pittsburgh and Boston College. But Brown never thought about considering other options, Butschle said.

“C.J. made it very clear to people when he committed to Maryland that he was really committed,” Butschle said. “I think once schools really understood that, [they backed off]. I haven’t gotten very many calls about C.J. lately. I think a lot of schools really respected that C.J. said, ‘I’m happy with my decision, I’m going to Maryland.’ [Colleges have said], ‘Tell him if he changes his mind, we’d love to talk to him.’ I had spoken to C.J. and his dad. Not that they minded other schools calling, but they wanted me to be somewhat of a buffer. With their permission, I told a lot of these schools that C.J. had committed and he was happy.”

Butschle said Brown’s excited about his future at Maryland and looks forward to working with offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach James Franklin. Butschle said Franklin will have an eager student in Brown.

“He’s very mature on the field and very mature in the classroom; a guy they can really be proud of to represent Maryland,” Butschle said. “I really can’t say enough things about his personality and character. He’s a great student. Once he learns the system -- and I’m sure his body is going to mature even more in their strength and conditioning program -- I see him being an impact player. I really do.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:32 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps

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About Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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