Adding more speed at the skill positions has been among Michigan’s prime objectives over the last couple recruiting cycles, and one of the targets it is hoping will help fill that need is 2021 Elk Grove (Calif.) Monterey Trail running back Prophet Brown. How fast is the Golden State Prospect, you ask? He was ranked by 247Sports as one of the ten fastest prospects in California. He also turned in a 10.90 100-meter time as a sophomore, then on the football field as a junior proved himself to be a big play threat every time he touched the ball.
247’s Greg Biggins described Brown as, “a true home run hitter and a threat to score from anywhere on the football field. He shows plenty of wiggle in the open field, has short area quickness to go along with his long speed, and catches the ball well enough that he would be a legitimate college prospect as a receiver.”
Brown’s junior stats back up that assessment. The four-star standout rushed 64 times for 779 yards and 11 touchdowns. He caught 17 passes for 343 yards and five touchdowns. Then at defensive back, a position some schools are recruiting him for, he returned one of his three interceptions for a touchdown. And for good measure he added one more score as a kick returner, a role for which he averaged 30 yards an attempt.
That stellar showing catapulted Brown into the Top247 where he now checks in at no. 180 overall. He also ranks as the no. 18 prospect in California and the no. 14 running back in the country.
Michigan threw its hat in the ring for this talented youngster back in January, and has been considered on of the favorites ever since.
Brown can remember the moment he received his ‘dream offer’ from the Wolverines like it was yesterday.
Honestly, it was just a huge amount of joy and excitement that just went through my body that day,” Brown told The Michigan Insider recently. “It was one of the best feelings ever because to just see your work pay off with a school like Michigan, it was really great.”
“It was definitely one of the schools that, for a while now, I’ve been wanting to go to. Everything about their school… the campus, the football, the tradition… just everything about it, I just love it. I have definitely rooted for them from afar for a while now. And so, to be offered by them is really just a blessing.”
That boyhood affinity was sincere, but was it exclusive? Brown has also described Oregon as his ‘dream offer’ in interviews. So, which program holds that distinction?
“Growing up in California, Oregon was definitely no. 1 when I first started getting into football because I was a huge DeAnthony Thomas fan,” Brown explained laughingly. “He’s just electric and his speed was off the charts. So that’s really when the Oregon phase was really strong.”
“And then growing up through the years, I started to (follow) Michigan. So, I love both of those schools greatly.”
The coaches in Ann Arbor have been putting on a full court press to show Brown that the feeling is mutual. The point-man in their pursuit is running backs coach Jay Harbaugh. He and Brown have formed a strong rapport despite never spending time together in person.
“The vibe right now is really great,” Brown said. “We really connect well. He reaches out to me, if not every day, every other day. We have a really good connection and I feel like it could really work in the long run. Good man, and I love talking with him.”
The same can also be said for other Maize & Blue staff members.
“Recently I had a FaceTime call with Jim Harbaugh, the head coach,” Brown said with a hint of awe in his voice. “And it was a really good call too. Really informational. To get to know him, and for him to know me is just an honor. I was kind of star struck and nervous, to be honest. Jim Harbaugh… he’s one of the big names in football… like, at every level. To be able to get on the phone with him and have him talk to me was really nice. It was a good experience.”
“And offensive coordinator (Josh) Gattis has reached out to me as well. He talks about using me in various places. Everywhere (on offense) because I can go out and play receiver, run some routes, and also do it from the backfield. He definitely talks to me about being the electric player that they need and being a big-time player. Being that ‘guy’ for them.”
“So, it has been a good connect between the coaching staff and me.”
If Michigan winds up being Brown’s choice, one of the added benefits would be being closer to his family members in the Great Lakes State.
“I haven’t actually (been to Michigan before),” he said. “I was hoping I could get up there during some of this visiting time, but the coronavirus is holding everything back and on standby right now. So, we’ll wait for all this to pass.”
“I have a few cousins out there in Detroit. They stay in Detroit, not too far away. So that would be a really good connect.”
Add it all up you have Michigan on strong footing in Brown’s recruitment. He confirmed as much last month when he put the Wolverines in his top six alongside Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon and USC.
“That top six is still staying the same right now,” he said. “I love them all. I’m just really waiting to get out there and see the campuses for myself.”
As the farthest away options on Brown’s list, Michigan and Notre Dame would seem to be disadvantaged. But he insists it only seems that way.
“I honestly don’t think (distance is a factor) because that’s one of the main things that I’ve kind of wanted to do growing up, (thinking about) going to college,” said Brown. “I’ve always wanted to kind of go out of state and go live somewhere else (and) not just be in California my whole life. Go see the other places in America.”
Including places in America that get cold and have snow during the winter.
“Honestly, people tell me (about Midwest winters) all the time,” Brown said laughingly. “They’re like, ‘if you live in Michigan there’s going to be snow… it’s cold out there…’, and all this other stuff. And I’m like, ‘I was born in the winter, so I like the cold. I like a winter. I’m a winter baby.’”
“I’d rather be in the winter than the summer sometimes. People, I guess, just feel different about it. I feel like I would not have a problem with it at all.”
Plus, he sees it as preparation for if he gets drafted by a team like the Green Bay Packers.
Said Brown, “in the NFL, it’s cold everywhere.”
So, if distance and weather will not factor into Brown’s eventual commitment, what will?
“Basically, I’ve got to feel the vibe for the school,” he replied. “That’s the no. 1 thing. And the schools that I’ve cut down to, I’ve already seen myself graduating and that I could have a career from those schools. All of them are academically solid. Graduating from there and getting a diploma from there is going to have some worth. That’s basically what helped me cut it down. And then, living-wise is also going to be another big deal.”
“Just seeing myself in that environment, with the people surrounding me (who) have me in the best situation to be successful. So, getting out (on visits) is basically the last thing waiting right now.”
Brown has not taken visits to any of the schools in his final six, so his upcoming trips will play an even greater role in determining which one he selects. That’s assuming will be allowed. All his plans are tentative at this point.
“Most of the unofficials I’ve taken are more local like the Nevadas, the Stanfords… the area ones,” said Brown. “I haven’t been to the super far ones. I’ve been in the southern California area, but I haven’t taken my unofficial visits or tours of the campuses and stuff.”
“Right now I have a couple of dates set in June,” he added. “We’re just going to have them stay as planned. We haven’t officially like changed anything or rescheduled anything, yet. It’s just a bit up in the air. June 22nd, I believe, was for an Oklahoma official. We’re going to see how that one goes. And then Notre Dame (was to be next). We were talking about it as well.”
The uncertainty over when of if visits will be allowed has also cast uncertainty on when a decision will come.
“There’s no exact timeline right now,” Brown said. “I’m just praying and being careful and patient. I’m not going to try to rush anything too soon. But I also don’t want to wait out too long. So, we’re just going with the flow right now.”
If Brown has any leanings among his top six, he is holding them close to the vest. So, to help handicap the race at this point we reached out to two of 247’s dynamic team of recruiting analysts, West Coast experts Greg Biggins and Brandon Huffman.
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