USA TODAY High School Sports is featuring the 12 athletes in the running for the Gatorade National Athlete of the Year, which will be announced July 16 in Los Angeles. Today's spotlight: Max Browne (football).
Max Browne won’t go as far as calling it “a piece of cake,” but growing up the youngest of four boys certainly made football not as daunting a task as, say, winning a wrestling match with his older brother, Mitch.
“That was pretty much impossible,” Max, now at USC, said with a laugh. “I had my fair share of losses and roughhousing as the youngest boy so when it was time to play a tough, physical sport like football the transition wasn’t as difficult. It’s worked out pretty well so far.”
That’s an understatement.
Browne put up mindboggling numbers at Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.), throwing for 12,953 yards and 146 touchdowns from his sophomore to senior year, including 4,500 yards and 49 touchdowns this past season. As a result, Browne, who also led the Spartans to back-to-back state titles, was named the 2012-13 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year.
“It’s an amazing honor to win an award like this,” said Browne, who enrolled at Southern California in January to get a jump start on academics and football. “It’s great. I worked really hard in high school and my teammates and coaches did too. I learned a lot having three brothers play quarterback at some point in their high school years.”
Mitch, 30, was the first quarterback at Skyline when it opened it 1997 and went on to play at Claremont McKenna College. Marcus, 28, excelled in track and basketball, as did Michael, 25.
“He picked up bits and pieces from each of his older brothers,” Browne’s father, Mike Browne, said. “He was always really eager to learn. He’d always want to play with them and their older friends. The only rule was if you play with them then there’s no whining about getting pushed around. He toughened up real quick.”
It’s no wonder that Max wears No. 4; the same number as former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, who is arguably one of the toughest quarterbacks in NFL history.
“He’s someone that I always admired because he’s just fearless and tough and that’s how I play,” Browne said of Favre. “It’s how I’ve always approached the game and that’s the only way I know how to get the job done. I’m just never intimidated.”
Not even as a true freshman competing with two other quarterbacks for the Trojans’ starting job.
He’s been here before.
Mike remembered Browne’s mindset back when he was just a freshman at Skyline and got called up to the varsity.
“He just knew that he was gonna win the starting spot,” Mike said. “He went into it with that confidence even though there was a senior there. He didn’t get it that year, but he stayed positive and learned a lot. He’s got a great approach to the game and to the position. He truly believes what other people would think is unrealistic. It’s amazing.”
Browne isn’t as impressed by his approach; for him it’s “the only way to see things.”
“I’ve always had to work hard whether it was playing with my older brothers or my high school team,” said Browne, who completed seven of 11 passes for 80 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the Trojans’ spring game in April. “This is just another challenge that I’ll work hard at. I’m confident that, in the end, I’ll be successful because I’m really driven. I’m ready to work harder than I ever have.”
Browne caught up with USA TODAY High School Sports' Jason Jordan to talk about the past success - and his future career.
Coming up did you ever consider playing another sport?
Browne: Oh yeah, I tried them all. I was pretty good in basketball.
What’s the toughest part about being a quarterback?
Browne: It’s a difficult position in a lot of ways, but probably just making the right reads is what I’d say. You get used to it after a while though. It becomes like second nature.
What’s been the highlight of your career thus far?
Browne: Definitely winning back-to-back state titles. My senior year was like the perfect season. I went 14-0 with my best friends. Played a game on ESPN. It was awesome.
You’re at USC now; what’s been the biggest adjustment for you as a freshman in that system?
Browne: Just learning the plays and the speed. It’s an adjustment, but I’m handling it well, I think.
Do you like your chances to get onto the field this coming season?
Browne: I’m a really confident player and I go into every situation with that confidence. I’m just going to work hard and let everything else take care of itself.
What’s your primary goal headed into your freshman season?
Browne: Well, we want to get USC a national title. That’s why I came here. Of course I want to play and contribute, but I just want to win games. That’s what we’re focused on as a team.
What can’t you get enough of right now?
Browne: Watching the show "Entourage." I had never watched it before so me and my friends are all starting from season one and watching the whole thing. I love it so far!”