Freshman WR credits high school coach, UK receivers for smooth transition
Published 3:17 pm Friday, June 9, 2023
By LARRY VAUGHT
One adjustment that has been a bit easier for Kentucky freshman receiver Anthony Brown than other new college players is the “toughness” factor because he played at Springfield (Ohio) High School for coach Maurice Douglass, a former UK defensive back.
“I come from a high school that preaches toughness,” said Brown. “That’s pretty big. My transition from high school to college from a toughness standpoint was pretty good. You are going to see bigger guys in college, but I was ready for it. Coach Douglass emphasizes working in the weight room and on and off the field. That helped me be ready for college.”
The 5-10, 170-pound Brown had 83 catches for 1,626 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2022, including six catches for 106 yards and one score in the Division I state title game. He also averaged 26.9 yards per kickoff return and 16.6 yards per punt return.
He had a lot of college options including Michigan, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Penn State and Tennessee.
“They not only recruited me but also recruited my family. As much as (recruiting coordinator) Vince (Marrow) talked to me, he also checked on my mom, step-day, siblings. He told me how crazy BBN was and he was right. I love coach Vince. He is a big role model in my life. I just love him being my coach.
His brother, Michale Brown-Stephens, is a receiver at Minnesota and helped Brown with his recruiting process. “I can always learn from his mistakes and also learn from what he is doing to add to my game,” the UK freshman said. “I kind of felt like I had an edge at an early age because I had an older brother who helped me a lot.”
Receivers Barion Brown, Dane Key and Dekel Crowdus all became mentors to the Ohio freshman on his visit to UK and continued to do that after he enrolled at Kentucky in January.
“Dane and Barion both really went off as freshmen. Those are good people to be behind and learn from and see what they can do,” Anthony Brown said. “All the receivers have been great helping me. They all told me to get in the playbook because if you don’t know the plays, you can’t play. I want to take my opportunity and run with it like Dane and Barion did last year.
Kentucky also set up for Anthony Brown to talk to former UK star receiver Wan’Dale Robinson.
“Wan’Dale was a big role model for me,” Brown said. “What he did in that offense when coach (Liam) Coen was here was big for me. Seeing how explosive he was in that offensive impressed me a lot.”
Marrow believes Brown is a better receiver coming into college than Lynn Bowden or Wan’Dale Robinson were because he’s been a full-time receiver in a college-style offense.
“Just knowing the basics of being a receiver has helped me a lot,” Brown said. “Those are two great players for Vince to compare me to but I look at myself as my own person. I am thankful to be compared to them. I think I am a dynamic player. I have speed but my biggest asset as a receiver is I can get open.”
Anthony Brown didn’t know Liam Coen was returning to UK as offensive coordinator when he signed with the Wildcats. He committed when Rich Scangarello was UK’s offensive coordinator.
“I had some thoughts he (Coen) might be coming back but I didn’t know. I love coach Coen. You could tell immediately when he got here that it had a big impact on the team,” the freshman said.
He’s also a big fan of transfer quarterback Devin Leary after working with him during spring practice.
“I love Dev. He hit me up about watching film and I do a lot with him. He has the tightest spiral I have ever caught. I love catching the ball from him,” Brown said. “Our relationship gets better daily. I love to study and watch film and so does he.
“I look at how to run routes. I am not much on looking at defenses yet. I have got to learn the basics and how to run routes the right way here. It can be a grind but I am loving it.”
No surprises for Leary
Kentucky quarterback Devin Leary has been on campus since January after transferring from North Carolina State for his final collegiate season and told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg in an interview that everything has been “exactly” what coach Mark Stoops told him it would be.
“He told me throughout my recruiting process that he was going to surround me with the best guys in the country, and at the end of the day, they’re going to get me ready,” Leary told ESPN.
Leary likes having offensive coordinator Liam Coen back at Kentucky after spending the 2022 season with the Los Angeles Rams.
“It’s really cool to see how (quarterback) Matt Stafford can operate in that offense, how (receiver) Cooper Kupp runs routes and how (receiver) Odell (Beckham Jr.) runs routes, and then as soon as we leave that meeting of watching those guys, we go out on the field and run the same exact plays,” Leary said.
“So from a transitional standpoint of seeing how the offense translates to the next level, it’s been awesome.”
Leary was sensational in 2021 when he threw for 3,433 yards and 35 touchdowns when NC State went 9-3 and got a win over Clemson. His 2022 season ended early due to an injury.