By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Over the years Stillwater High School offensive coordinator Paul Hix has ran the bubble screen hundreds — if not thousands — of times. It’s usually a good way to get a couple yards here or there, but nothing too major.
Unless Jordan Brown is on the other end.
“I don’t know if it’s another gear or something,” Hix said. “... But something magical happens once the ball gets in his hands. He’s got another gear. He becomes really difficult to tackle, he sees lanes and he runs by people. It’s impressive. We really had no idea until probably Midwest City that he could leave good 6A defenders behind.”
Perhaps its the bright pink undershirt that he will sometimes wear during practice and games, but Brown has a knack of going from human to superhuman in a flash.
Case in point: Brown burnt Tulsa Union’s defense — which has a history of producing Division I talent — for a 52-yard touchdown reception to go along with a 2-yard score.
“I just go with the flow,” Brown said. “Nothing really slows down. I just use my speed and then I think, ‘I got to go.’”
Even before the season began, Hix knew Brown had the talent to make an immediate impact. But even Hix didn’t know how valuable the sophomore could be.
“Going into the year, getting him the ball wasn’t necessarily a priority,” Hix said. “He was just a piece that fit the puzzle, but as we saw what he was able to do early on against Midwest City and as Brandon (Prather) became hobbled, it became more of a priority to make sure we got him touches each week.
“We had an idea of how good he was. We saw him play as a ninth-grader, saw him catch some touchdowns and return some kicks. But you really never know exactly how soon that will translate onto the varsity field. He was definitely on our radar and a guy we thought that would contribute, but I don’t think we thought that looking back after five games he would be our touchdown leader, receptions leader or yardage leader like he is.”
Getting Brown touches has become increasingly more difficult over the last few weeks. The sophomore has become a bit of a marked man as of late, but even that doesn’t bother Brown.
In fact, he kind of likes it.
“It’s good being just a sophomore,” Brown said. “I always play each game like it’s the last of my senior year, so it doesn’t matter how many guys they put on me, I’m going to find a way to get open.”
One of the ways he’s been working to free himself more? Studying the playbook and film.
While having plenty of raw talent, Hix said Brown isn’t always the sharpest route runner or the best blocker — something Brown is determined to change.
“We’re still working very hard with him on being a good receiver when he doesn’t have the ball,” Hix said. “He a very sophomore receiver when he’s running his routes and sometimes when he’s blocking.”
And while Brown may not run every play to perfection yet, Hix said each time he dials up that bubble screen and calls Brown’s number the offensive staff collectively holds its breath.
“I don’t think I have had a kid take that same bootleg play and short-yardage throw to the house, but now every time we run it, I think we kind of get a little bit excited on the sidelines,” Hix said. “He’s done it three times now. If we can keep finding ways to disguise it and keep running it, I think it will be a pretty big staple of what we’re trying to do.”
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