Malcolm Brown picks up a ball off the turf and launches it toward the receiver streaking down the field at Reservoir High School. He watches the bullet pass find its intended target, then quickly reloads.
It’s a hot afternoon in late July with an air of uncertainty continuing to surround the status of high school football, but the Gators’ rising senior still realizes there is no time to waste.
For his own sake, the muscular 6-foot-4 quarterback knows that he needs the repetitions. Just as important, however — as he surveys the field filled with prospective Reservoir varsity players — he knows that as a leader for a program coming off a 1-8 season last fall, it’s his job to set the example.
“I’ve just been trying to get out here every day and just get some work in with the guys and just building our chemistry up,” said Brown, who has been coordinating consistent workouts with teammates since April. “I stay on these guys about lifting weights all of the time so that they can stay in the running with their size.
“[If] or when the season comes by we’ll be ready.”
Brown acknowledges that the situation could very well change again, potentially even canceling his senior season altogether, but he’s remaining focused on the things that he can control within the recruiting process. Continuing his physical preparation is at the top of the list.
“I will always have the hunger to get better so just because we might not have a season I will still get out there and sharpen my skills to prepare me for the next level,” he said. “I really don’t think it will affect my recruiting that much because most of the schools that are recruiting now are recruiting me off my junior year film.”
Still, the recruiting process has been slow to evolve. His first offer came from Football Bowl Championship Subdivision member Saint Francis (Pa.) in April and he’s been in contact over the past few months with a number of other programs, including Delaware, Morgan State, Old Dominion, Syracuse and Towson.
Having something to prove, though, is just fine with Brown.
“The way that I play ball, I like to be overlooked — I like being the second thought,” he said. “I like proving people’s opinions wrong.
While Brown has blossomed into a dynamic passer, he came to Reservoir as a freshman slated to play tight end and defensive end because of his size. Gators coach Bryan Cole quickly saw the arm strength and put him behind center, where Brown beat out two seniors to become the varsity starter in 2017.
In the years since, Cole has transformed the team’s offense to revolve around Brown’s strengths.
“He’s got a lot on his plate in terms of playing quarterback when he plays with us,” Cole said. “Just talent-wise from his strengths, we ended up going from a 70 percent run team to a 70 percent passing team in his junior year. There’s some other factors as well, but our ability to do that was resting on his shoulders. For us, during his tenure at Reservoir, he’s progressed every single year.”
Part of Brown’s overall development can be attributed to his time at the Quarterback Factory, working with Chris Baucia and a number of other top quarterbacks in the area. Five-star Oklahoma commit Caleb Williams (Gonzaga), John Griffith (St. Frances) and several other area passers sharpen Brown’s game on daily basis.
Brown takes a number of cues and training techniques from them, including improving footwork and throwing techniques.
Brown took the time to boost his status on a more national stage by participating in the QB Stars event in April, a showcase in Atlanta hosted by quarterback trainers Quincy Avery and Sean McEvoy. Forty quarterbacks were invited to make 40 throws each and the tape was then sent out to college coaches.
Luke Casey, a former Atholton High School and Mount Saint Joseph quarterback, has also been a major influence in terms of showing Brown the ropes of being a signal-caller. He works with the young passer at the Quarterback Factory roughly two times a week and Casey sees a lot of similarities with other Maryland high school quarterbacks such as St. Paul’s Scott Smith III (a Towson commit) and Easton’s Ryan O’Connor (a Delaware commit) in terms of size and ability to throw the ball downfield.
“You look at those two guys going Division I and he’s just as good as them when he’s out there competing,” Casey said. “They’re all very comparable, but he’s taller. His improvement — his consistency throwing the ball and consistency with his footwork has gotten a lot better in just four months.”