Pressure? What pressure?
USC commit Max Browne handles E-11 pressure cooker en route to MVP honors
SAN PABLO, Calif. -- There's a reason they call it the pressure cooker.
The final drill at the Elite 11 regional events begins with every quarterback in attendance lined along one side of the field. Seven names are called -- one at a time -- and each QB gets less than a minute to race downfield and take aim at receivers with five footballs that await on pedestals.
For his work, the Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline QB left Contra Costa College as MVP of the Oakland regional and earned an automatic entry for the Elite 11 finals in Redondo Beach, Calif., in two months.
"Luckily, I got my name called in the pressure cooker," said Browne, the USC pledge ranked No. 2 nationally among pocket passers and 13th in the ESPN 150. "I felt like I had slowed off. One-on-ones wasn't my best period. I was kind of disappointed until the end.
"A solid day, but room for improvement."
Browne has high expectations for himself, Others do, too, a result of his 4,034 passing yards and 45 touchdowns as a junior.
Windy conditions bothered the quarterbacks Friday. Browne included.
"No matter what a quarterback says," he said, "we all want the sunny weather."
So the 6-foot-5, 205-pound Browne relied on instincts. His footwork comes naturally after so many reps. He stayed smooth in the pocket all day.
It also helped that Browne knew most of the drills after competing last year in the same Bay Area regional at Stanford.
"I felt like I was well prepared," he said.
Trent Dilfer, head coach at the Elite 11 events, said he thought Browne was even better than advertised. Longtime QB coach George Whitfield, who staffed the Oakland regional, offered more praise.
The pressure-cooker drill played right into Browne's hands, according to Whitfield.
"You could tell that translates over from the last two or three years," he said. "It's like, 'Hey, give me the ball. Give me a set of objectives and let me go out here and attack this thing.'
"There are talented guys, and there are performers, but there aren't a whole lot of talented guys who perform. He's a nice combination of both. I'm excited to see what he does in the finals and, bigger picture, what he does at SC down the line."
Browne picked the Trojans from a long list of offers, committing in early April. At a competition like Friday's Elite 11 regional, Browne said he noticed more eyes than ever trained on him.
"You can't shy away from that," Browne said. "I knew when I committed to SC that's how it was going to be, and I wouldn't want it any differently."
He knows it will continue at the finals, just a few miles south of the campus on which he'll play next year. Browne figures to rank as one of the MVP favorites.
"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I've grown up watching it. It's going to be fun, another chance to compete."