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June 19, 2012
Sammamish (Wash.) quarterback Max Browne started the recruiting process atop the rankings, but since being anointed as the nation's No. 1 passer in the 2013 class, the U.S. Army All-American has never backed down from a challenge.
This week in Atlanta, Browne will participate in the inaugural Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, pitting the best against the best.
"At the end of the day, I think it's just a fun deal," Browne said. "We all work real hard to get an invite to a camp like this and you don't want to pass it up. I get to go to Atlanta, a place I've never been, and enjoy the sport I love.
"At the same time, it's a good opportunity to compete with other players and also get to know some future USC Trojans."
Elkon (Md.) five-star defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow, Stockton (Calif.) four-star running back Justin Davis, Redlands (Calif.) four-star defensive end Kylie Fitts, Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) four-star cornerback Chris Hawkins, Mesquite (Texas) four-star wide receiver Eldridge Massington and Mission Hills (Calif.) four-star wide receiver Steven Mitchell will all be in attendance representing as USC commitments for the event, which begins with registration and other events on Friday.
Being a quarterback, Browne's relationship with Massington and Mitchell will be especially important in the coming years. This week's trip to Atlanta will be the first time the 6-foot-5, 200-pound signal-caller meets either player.
"I'm more so looking forward to getting to know those guys off the field," Browne said. "I trust the USC coaching staff 100 percent when they tell me, 'This kid is legit and there is a reason we offered him.'
"I've met Justin Davis and been able to watch him play. He's a special player, so I'm real excited to see the two receivers we got. Just getting to hang out with them and throw a couple of balls around should be a fun time."
While Browne is rated the No. 1 quarterback in the nation by Rivals.com, not every publication agrees with that assessment. The minority critical of Browne's ability adds weight to the chip he firmly places on his shoulder for such events.
"There's always a drive to be the best," said Browne. "Some sites have me as the No. 1 guy, so I have to go out and prove them right. Some sites have me rated lower, so I have to get the No. 1 spot. You compete each and every rep, and that's a big reason why I'm heading down to Atlanta."
Browne will also use his time in Atlanta to talk with many uncommitted prospects looking at USC. While the five-star quarterback is not the most vocal recruit turned recruiter for the Trojans, he is willing to spread the word about why he committed to USC.
"I'll text guys and let them know I'm around," Browne said. "I'll talk to guys and let them know USC thinks they're great players, but at the same time, I've been through that and know how it works.
"The amount of text messages you get can become pretty annoying. That's the last thing I want to do. The beauty about committing to USC is that you can trust that the coaching staff is going to recruit well.
"The product the university has to offer also makes it easy. I don't really have to recruit guys. All I have to tell them is to take a visit, experience it and it will show you why I committed. It's a special place and that's been proven with this recruiting class. Kids want to be a part of it."
Mike Farrell's take
Browne could be the highest-profile prospect at the event because quarterbacks get so much attention, especially in a 7-on-7 setting. The West roster is probably the weakest overall when it comes to receivers but with Browne it might not matter. Can he lead his underdog team to the title with his decision making and precision accuracy? Can he make a case for No. 1 overall?