'He's got real juice': USC RB coach talks about Raleek Brown's skillset, freshman role
One of the most dynamic offensive signees from the 2022 class is finally on campus and finally in a Trojan uniform.
With fall camp opening up, eyes are squarely fixed on former Mater Dei star Raleek Brown. The blue-chip running back gives USC an electric—albeit young—offensive weapon to add to its fully-loaded arsenal. Even though head coach Lincoln Riley has stocked the cupboard with skill talent in a short amount of time, Brown’s skillset is such you’d think the coaching staff finds a way to get him on the field.
The high school highlight tape is absurd. The production—5,774 career yards as a runner and receiver, 72 career touchdowns, over 9 yards a carry and 19 yards a reception—is gaudy.
Whether it’s in the backfield or in the slot, Brown will be on the field, right?
“I wish I could give you that information, I really wish I could,” his position coach, Kiel McDonald, told reporters this week. “Coach has got a plan for him. The biggest thing is he’s a freshman, he needs to get acclimated, acclimated to school, acclimated to the program, acclimated to the coaches. There’s a different level of expectations. He came from one of the best high schools in the country but now you’re in college.
“Right now, all the focus has just been on him transitioning from high school to college. But Coach has a clear vision for him, he’s got to come in and pick up the playbook very quickly. He’s doing a good job with that. We’ll see how it all looks like when he puts a Trojan helmet on.”
The skillset is obviously tantalizing. He was a highly-touted high school recruit for a reason, and a guy who fits seamlessly into what Riley wants to do with this offense. Brown can run it, he can line up as a wideout and catch it, he can stress matchups and hunt open field.
“He’s got real juice,” McDonald said. “He can run. He’s got a lot of natural ability, can make you miss, can hit the home run. Just ball skills. He’s a natural ball-catcher. It makes things easy. I think you’re going to see him in a number of different places on the field because he’s more of a Swiss army knife. There’s a lot of things he brings to the program and we want to make sure we showcase his talent.”
McDonald said they’re their own players, but Brown reminds him quite a bit of Ty Jordan—the Utah running back he coached in 2020.
As a true freshman, Jordan started four of the Utes’ five games during the COVID-shortened campaign and led the team in carries (83), rushing yards (597), all-purpose yards (723) and rushing scores (six). That play earned him the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year award and a spot on the All-Pac-12 Second Team.
With the more experienced options USC has in the running back room, perhaps they aren’t expecting anywhere close to that level of production from Brown right away. And for the youngster looking to find his way, maybe that’s the perfect situation to be in.