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Can grad transfer QB help Oregon take 'next step' to College Football Playoff?

Yahoo! Sports logo Yahoo! Sports 4/2/2020 Pete Thamel
a close up of a person wearing a helmet: Boston College QB Anthony Brown looks on during a game against Wake Forest on Sept. 28. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) © Provided by Yahoo! Sports Boston College QB Anthony Brown looks on during a game against Wake Forest on Sept. 28. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

When former Boston College quarterback Anthony Brown entered the transfer portal in early December, he was in the throes of recovery from an ACL tear in his left knee.

Brown started for three years at BC, going 14-11 over 25 games, and was leaving as a graduate transfer. While there was a lot of interest for his services, much of the hesitation from schools revolved around his recovery and ability to play next season after his October ACL tear.

“Having faith was a huge thing in this whole process,” Brown told Yahoo Sports on Thursday. “It was hard. Spots opened up and closed just as fast as they opened.”

His patience was ultimately rewarded. In March, Brown visited Oregon and he announced his commitment to the Ducks on Wednesday. Brown said he also received interest from Georgia, Mississippi State, Colorado, Michigan State, Vanderbilt, South Florida, Northern Illinois and a host of smaller schools.

The only visit he took, however, was to Eugene the weekend of March 7. He said the approach of the coaching staff impressed him, as they didn’t necessarily deliver a recruiting pitch.

“I would say the one thing that sold me was the culture there,” Brown said. “Not the facilities or uniforms, nothing like that. The culture and how much they’re about their business.”

The positive vibe around the program struck Brown, starting with the energy from head coach Mario Cristobal. He forged a deep connection throughout his recruitment with director of player personnel Thomas Arends and director of high school relations Don Johnson.

“What I got from the staff was that they’re ready to take the next step from what they’ve already had, which was a wonderful Rose Bowl season last year,” Brown said. “They’re trying to build on that, to the College Football Playoff and the national championship. 

“The players informed me that this is no hoax. The coaches act like this, 24-7. Just hearing that is amazing.”

There were no guarantees. ...I didn’t really want a program to tell me the starting job was mine.

Brown also liked what the Oregon coaches didn’t tell him. There was no talk about the starting job, other than that he’d have a chance to earn it. He’s expected to compete with redshirt sophomore Tyler Shough, redshirt freshman Cale Millen and incoming freshman Jay Butterfield to replace future first-round pick Justin Herbert at quarterback.

“There were no guarantees,” Brown said. “Basically, they offered me the opportunity to come in and compete. That’s all I’ve really been asking for. I didn’t really want a program to tell me the starting job was mine. It’s nice to hear that sometimes, but I’d rather work for what I can get than have things given to me.”

Brown has already locked in on learning new Oregon offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead’s system. When he’s not working out at his New Jersey home, he said his days are spent watching Penn State games from 2016-17 and Mississippi State games from the past two seasons. He easily ticked off all of the players who’ve shined in Moorhead’s system.

“I’ve been watching Saquon Barkley, Trace McSorley, Tommy Stevens, Nick Fitzgerald and Garrett Shrader,” Brown said. “His offense is great, honestly. It’s wide open and something that the quarterback can really take control over, and it can be extremely effective if the quarterback is a really good decision-maker. Which he’s had.”

Brown has had moments of success at BC, but an ACL injury in 2017 – to his right knee – and the one last season stunted his development. He finished his career there with 40 touchdowns, 20 interceptions and completed more than 59 percent of his passes in 2019. He’s grateful for the opportunity to build on that success on the other side of the country. 

“This was a blessing,” he said. “I’m extremely thankful for everything that’s happened, especially throughout this process. All the coaches that have contacted me and saw the potential in my return, I appreciated it.”

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