Ravens first-round draft pick Marquise “Hollywood” Brown was born two weeks before his due date weighing five pounds, six ounces.
Being the biggest guy in class growing up wasn’t Brown’s destiny. But in football, he has consistently measured up.
One of college football’s most explosive wide receivers at Oklahoma, Brown excelled with speed, change-of-direction, toughness, and smarts. His penchant for playmaking endeared him to the Ravens, who were undeterred by his smallish 5-foot-9, 166-pound frame. The Ravens believe Brown will bring some Hollywood to their offense as a quick-strike weapon, and they acted on that belief by selecting him 25th overall Thursday night, the first wide receiver taken in the NFL Draft.
At his introductory press conference Friday, Brown made it clear he wasn’t concerned with being the first wide receiver drafted. He is more concerned with getting to the end zone, as often as he can.
“I’ve been watching the Ravens growing up,” Brown said. “I know the tradition here. I know the standard here, and I’m ready to come in and make a difference right away. Playoff run last year, I’m looking to help this team make it farther than that. So, I’m just glad to be here, glad to be a Raven, and glad to get started.”
Brown had gaudy numbers at Oklahoma last season, 75 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 17.1 yards per catch. As much as the Ravens talk about running the football next season, they also want an offense that is less methodical and more explosive. New Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman believes Brown will be a key piece in the Ravens’ attack. Brown has tremendous speed, not just straight-line speed, but elusive moves that allow him to evade tacklers after making the catch.
What was Roman’s reaction when Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta made the Brown pick official?
“I was accused of having a beaming smile on my face,” Roman said.
“We can play him inside, outside, short, deep, all kinds of things, and we’re really only limited by our imagination. He brings that kind of versatility to the Ravens. So, very thrilled. I would just close in saying that on his visit, I got an incredible feel, I think, as did a lot of people, about just the grit and toughness and competitiveness that really emanated from him and what you’re looking for. So, can’t wait to get to work with him.”
Brown was accompanied at the press conference by his sister Shanice and his mother, Shannon James, who said Brown was always fueled on the football field by talk about his lack of size.
“Maybe he used it to show people you can’t just a book by its cover,” James said. “That fuel drives him. Those are just words people are saying but his talent speaks for itself.”
Brown grew up in Hollywood, Fla., hence his nickname. However, he began his college career at a junior college, College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Calif., after drawing little interest from Division I schools.
His mother wasn’t surprised when Brown cried Thursday night after hearing his named called.
“Just thinking about the whole struggle to get here where he is today,” James said. “I think it just all hit him at one time.”
James said she could never keep Brown away from football. At two years old, he had a Dan Marino Miami Dolphins jersey that he often refused to take off. Now Brown is looking to take off with the Ravens. He is still recovering from Lisfranc foot surgery, but he has already started running, and Brown and the Ravens feel he will be on the field for training camp.
David Culley, Ravens Wide Receivers/Assistant Head Coach, thinks Brown will be up to speed when the regular season begins.
“He’ll still be with us doing everything that we do in the classroom,” Culley said. “He’ll be on the field watching and watching our guys that are already here doing certain things, and just learning the playbook. I have no doubt that when it comes time for him to be ready to go, he’ll be ready to go.”
Brown sounds ready. He was no longer emotional Friday, just excited to get started.
“I told myself, ‘I’m not going to cry up there,’ but I don’t know how that happened,” Brown said. “It’s just a testament to everything I’ve been through and just all the hard work, but I know it’s just the beginning.”