The Ohio State Buckeyes led the country with 12 NFL draft picks this past spring but with four dazzling touchdown receptions in a nationally televised 45-24 thumping of Oklahoma Saturday night, redshirt sophomore wide receiver Noah Brown served notice that in terms of pro prospects, the cupboard is hardly bare in Columbus.
Brown hauled in five passes for 72 yards against the Sooners overall, nearly exactly matching the previous five grabs for 71 yards he’d posted up to this point over his entire career.
The former four-star recruit played in all 13 games for the Buckeyes squad that won the 2014 national championship but missed all of 2015 after sustaining a major injury in the preseason.
To truly boost his NFL draft stock, Brown will obviously have to build upon his success. The unique combination of size, speed, agility and body control he demonstrated against the Sooners, however, is certainly enough to leave a lasting impression on the scouts who no doubt were watching these two young and talented programs.
Here is a breakdown of Brown’s four touchdowns.
Brown was held out of the end zone in the first quarter but it didn’t take him long into the second stanza to make his first dynamic play, leaving Oklahoma freshman cornerback Parrish Cobb flat-footed with a quick stutter-step into the left corner of the end zone for an easy four-yard touchdown. With Cobb cutting off the inside, Brown simply slid to his right, extending his arm slightly to create space and leapt into the air, pulling down the ball easily.
After the catch — which staked the Buckeyes to a 21-7 lead just 40 seconds into the second quarter — Brown looked back down upon a floored Cobb as if to signal that the nightmare was just beginning.
Brown scored his second touchdown following an Oklahoma field goal, this time showing off his straight-line and body control. Matched up again with Cobb, Brown got a clean release off the ball and accelerated smoothly down the left sideline. Barrett’s throw was slightly short, forcing Brown to turn back into a face-guarding Cobb. He adjusted beautifully, spinning towards the pylon to make a difficult, twirling grab look easy.
Of course, the touchdown everyone is going to remember — the early favorite for catch of the year — was the one that gave Ohio State’s its fifth touchdown of the first half, extending the Buckeyes’ lead to 35-17.
Playing outside to the left of Barrett with a slot receiver drawing safety coverage up the middle, Brown accelerated past Sooners junior Michiah Quick and looked back towards his quarterback. Barrett lofted a pass in the general direction of his playmaking receiver — offering up the very definition of a jump ball — and watched Brown do the impossible. Reaching back through the hard-charging Sooner, Brown snaked his right arm around the defender to pull the ball towards him, pinning it on Quick’s back and controlling it with his left hand in a touchdown “hug” with the Oklahoma defensive back before each fell back to the turf.
While Brown’s third touchdown catch of the night may have been a true “drop the mic” moment, as FOX broadcaster Gus Johnson suggested, his finale provided a terrific reminder of his athleticism.
This time facing Oklahoma junior Jordan Thomas, the 6-foot-2, 222 pound Brown exploded off the ball. Rather than leap high for a jump ball as he’d done so successfully before, the redshirt sophomore, dropped his hips and fluidly turned left, easily creating space from Thomas and plucking a perfectly thrown pass from Barrett for an emphatic final score.
With only 10 receptions over his career, projecting Brown to the NFL would seem premature. The redshirt sophomore is technically eligible for the 2017 draft, however, and if Saturday night’s breakout performance is any indication, he’s a prime candidate to be one of this year’s breakout stars.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Buckeyes’ WR Noah Brown explodes onto NFL draft scene with four TDs