USC recruit Max Browne will leave Skyline with passing records, a No. 1 national ranking at his position and, he hopes, another state title.
In the moments after the second-to-last game of his high-school career, the nicest No. 1 recruit you’ll likely meet bounces between three different interviews.
After the first interview, he picks up his helmet and passes three tiny future Skyline Spartans, pausing for high-fives and telling them they did a good job.
A television cameraman wearing a bright orange vest starts rolling, shoving a microphone forward.
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“Can you say and spell your name for me?” he asks.
And so Max Browne politely says and spells his name without a hint of mockery. This is the same Max Browne who did an interview with CBS’s Tom Lemming the week before, who will compete to be Matt Barkley’s heir at USC and who is the top-ranked high-school quarterback in the country.
Yes, that Max Browne. The one who had just completed 29 of 32 passes (91 percent) for 387 yards and four touchdowns. He had dissected No. 3 Camas’ defense so thoroughly in Saturday’s semifinal win that even his coach was mesmerized.
In his third and final year as Skyline’s starter, Browne will lead his top-ranked Spartans (13-0) into Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. Class 4A state championship game for the third straight year. The Spartans will play Tacoma’s Bellarmine Prep (12-1).
“It’s nice to know when my last high-school game is,” he said.
The final chapter of Max Browne’s high-school career will be written at the Tacoma Dome, so it’s time, once again, to pay homage to a player who trashed the record books on the field while handling himself gracefully off it.
Browne answers nearly every text message and call. He goes out of his way to deflect credit to his teammates and coaches despite receiving most of the attention.
He once told the story of his first call from a big-time college coach. It was Alabama’s Nick Saban, and Browne left his art class to talk with one of the most famous coaches in the country.
“You hear the voice on TV or in the ‘Blind Side’ movie, and then he’s actually talking to you,” Browne said. “I was freaking out.”
Then Browne hung up and went back to class, just another one of Skyline’s 1,400 students, only taller with curly blonde hair and an accurate arm.
“He’s going to leave a hole in this school after he leaves,” Skyline coach Mat Taylor said. “Even our administrators, our teachers, have commented on how it’s going to be weird when he graduates because he’s just such a positive influence on the school.”
The day after Skyline beat Bothell in the KingCo 4A title game, Taylor said several seniors, including some football players, didn’t go to school right away in the morning. Browne, who had five total touchdowns, was there when classes started at 7:25 a.m.
“It’s always hard to talk about, ‘This kid’s better than that kid,’ ” Taylor said. “It’s like talking about your own children. But it’s not hard when you talk about Max. He has left an impression on me that I don’t think he’ll ever know.”
Even opponents feel that way. Said Bothell running back Danny Wilson, who clashed with Browne twice this season: “He’s a guy I would want my daughter to date. Not that I have any daughters.”
On the field, Browne has put together one of the best careers in Washington history. He needs 9 yards Saturday to pass DeSales’ Brian Lindgren as the state’s all-time leading passer. He already passed Kellen Moore, the former Prosser High and Boise State QB, to become the state’s career leader in completions.
Browne’s 73.4 completion percentage this season would rank fourth all-time nationally, and he has topped 4,000 yards passing every year he has started.
This season, he’s passed for 4,142 yards and 45 touchdowns, with just four interceptions.
“He may be the best that’s ever passed through that I’ve had the chance to see,” said former Skyline coach and ex-UW assistant Steve Gervais. “And this state has had some great quarterbacks.”
Browne started dreaming about playing quarterback at Skyline of Sammamish while watching his oldest brother, Mitch, lead the school to its first state title in 2000. Ever since, Browne has thought about doing the same.
He’s 1-1 in state-title games, beating Skyview of Vancouver last year and losing to Ferris of Spokane as a sophomore. Now he gets one more chance to end his career on a happy note.
“For me, Skyline football has pretty much been the center focus of my life,” Browne said. “It went by fast, but it was fun, and I really wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|Climbing the list|
|Max Browne can become the state’s career passing leader with 9 yards Saturday night. The top five:|
|Player, school||Years||Pass yards|
|Brian Lindgren, DeSales||1996-98||12,575|
|Max Browne, Skyline||2009-12||12,567|
|Kellen Moore, Prosser||2003-06||11,367|
|T.J. Conley, DeSales||2000-03||10,147|
|Jake Heaps, Skyline||2007-09||9,196|
|According to state historian David Maley|