We continue the Better Know a Buckeye series with its 21st installment in 2018. Here, we profile Cameron Brown, a wide receiver from St. Louis.
- Size: 6-1/175
- Position: WR
- Hometown: St. Louis, MO
- School: Christian Brothers
- 247 Composite: ★★★★
- National Ranking: 323
- Position Ranking: 54 (WR)
- State Ranking: 6 (MO)
- Offense-Defense All-American
Cameron Brown was a last-minute flip from Nebraska to Ohio State, effectively the "receipt" for a similar last-minute flip in 2017 when Tyjon Lindsey departed Ohio State's recruiting class for Nebraska. It took some effort, and things beyond Ohio State's control to make this happen. Ohio State's coaches connected Cameron Brown to their effort to also secure Kamryn Babb's pledge, resulting in a camp visit last June that resulted in an Ohio State offer. Also, Nebraska's sagging football fortunes and Mike Riley's dismissal led to Brown reopening his recruitment and flipping to Ohio State. He flipped to and signed with Ohio State on the first day of the early signing period.
I retell this recruitment below. I offer a scouting report for a wide receiver prospect who could conceivably begin his career on the defensive side of the ball. I suggest we wont' see a lot of playing time for Cameron Brown in 2018, but the new redshirt rules mean Brown could still preserve a year of eligibility. I close with some senior-year highlight film for the reader to watch at the end of the feature.
There are two factors that ultimately brought Cameron Brown to Ohio State. The first is Kamryn Babb, who comes from the same high school program and had long favored Ohio State. The coaching staff tethered a relatively new interest in Brown to his high school teammate. Further, Nebraska's football fortunes started to sag in the fall of 2016. The dismissal of Mike Riley and former wideouts coach Keith Williams played a late and decisive role in moving Brown from Nebraska's class to Ohio State's class.
Fans cannot separate Cameron Brown's recruitment from Kamryn Babb's recruitment. There's the obvious connection that both are high school teammates from St. Louis. The more important connection may be that Cameron Brown's decision to come in tow with Babb to Ohio State for a one-day camp is what got Brown on Ohio State's radar and resulted in a scholarship offer.
More Cameron Brown at 11W
Both differ in the trajectory their recruitments took prior to that point. Both started from the same position. St. Louis prospects immediately catch the eye of the in-state Missouri Tigers and what amounts to the former Big XII North. Iowa State was Brown's first offer on June 2, 2016. Missouri followed four days later. Brown visited both Iowa State and Missouri in September and October of his junior year, which seemed to be his choice set before Nebraska extended an offer on Oct. 22, 2016 during an unofficial visit.
Nebraska immediately became the consensus pick for Cameron Brown's landing spot. He fielded some offers from places as diverse as Duke, Georgia, Illinois, and Vanderbilt in the wake of Nebraska's offer, but ultimately pulled the trigger on the Cornhuskers on May 7, 2017. Brown said he felt at home and expressed optimism to the caliber of coaching he would receive from then-wideouts coach Keith Williams.
This did not last long. If Alabama's offer the day after his Nebraska commitment didn't jolt his recruitment, his decision to attend a one-day camp at Ohio State with Kamryn Babb did. Babb, by this point, had long fancied Ohio State and the Buckeye coaches and fans were just waiting on the inevitable. Babb's participation in this one-day camp was another excuse to see the campus and the coaches. Brown's decision to come to Columbus with him reflected an interest from Zach Smith and a surprise fork in Brown's recruitment. His attendance at the campus resulted in an Ohio State offer, to the chagrin of Nebraska fans.
Brown momentarily re-opened his recruitment with an eye toward a decision date of Aug. 7, his father's birthday. Brown chose to reaffirm his Nebraska pledge on that day. His recruitment could conceivably have ended there, if not for Nebraska's sagging football fortunes in the fall. He made an official visit on Dec. 8 and the writing was on the wall from there.
Cameron Brown committed to Ohio State on Dec. 20 as the 21st member of what would become Ohio State's full 2018 recruiting class. He flipped from Nebraska, but also held competing offers from Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri, among several others.
Ohio State coaches get the credit for securing Cameron Brown's flip within a short turnaround from Kamryn Babb's commitment. Tethering Brown's recruitment to Kamryn Babb did well to grab his interest. However, Nebraska's subpar season and coaching uncertainty played a key role in the switch. Nebraska's replacement, Scott Frost, came too late to keep Brown from flipping to a program on more solid footing.
The decision date of Dec. 20 coincided with the start of the early signing period, which would effectively provide Cameron Brown a unique footnote as the first "day of" early signing day commitment and signature in program history.
WHERE HE EXCELS
If his high school teammate Kamryn Babb is more an "underneath" receiver, Brown is more an over the top receiver.
He's a fine route-runner even if I wouldn't peg that as a relative strength of his. I think his film shows he shines in two ways. First, Brown has exceptional speed for the position. He ran a laser-timed 4.51 40-yard dash at The Opening's Chicago Regional and finished with a 10.76 100-meter dash in a Missouri state track meet. Parris Campbell, conceivably Ohio State's fastest wide receiver who regularly receives playing time, ran a 10.77 100-meter dash as a personal best in high school.
Second, Brown shows considerable body control that stands out from other "fast" receivers. Watch him run through defensive backs in his senior-year film. It's too common for "fast" receivers to feel suffocated by coverage, hoping that push off the line of scrimmage creates the space the receiver needs. Thereafter, the legs can do the rest. Brown, by contrast, feels comfortable in a defensive back's orbit, running through coverage at times and using his hands to makes catches away from his body and the defensive backs.
It's a nice part of his skill set that translates well to the next level.
MUST WORK ON
Brown split time between defensive back and wide receiver in high school and camped at both positions. There was some uncertainty about where he would fit in college. This feature evaluates him as a potential wide receiver. I think he's explosive enough for offense. He could still be a defensive back. The sooner he finds his home, the better.
The other comment is more an open-ended complaint, not specific to Brown. Brown's film resembles Terry McLaurin a lot. His potential mirrors Parris Campbell in the 2014 recruiting class. Both have been serviceable wide receivers at Ohio State, but Ohio State's fans are still searching for more from the position.
Curtis Samuel was a first-team All-Big Ten receiver in 2016, but wasn't a true wide receiver. His versatility—more than his receiver prowess, per se—got him that selection. Corey Brown (2012-2013) is the only the true wideout of the Urban Meyer era to crack at least the second-team All-Big Ten selection (i.e. Mike Thomas, the best pro of the bunch, was a third-teamer in 2015). Dane Sanzenbacher (2010) was the last first-team All-Big Ten true wideout for Ohio State.
Ohio State fans will want Brown to find something in him to rise above what has been the average wide receiver play for the past few seasons.
Brown is good enough and fast enough to play immediately on special teams, but there's no immediate opening at receiver and it's not clear he could crack the two-deep at this moment at any defensive back position. It's possible he plays a little in 2018, but new NCAA redshirt rules mean he could still preserve his eligibility.
Here is a senior-year highlight film of Cameron Brown.