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Oregon football on National Signing Day: Pharoah Brown joins the Ducks

Pharoah Brown became the second Duck commit of the day by faxing in his letter of intent early this morning.

He’s 6-7, 225 and still filling out, all-district in basketball last winter scoring 16.6 points a game, so talented he can dunk with either hand.

Football’s become his first love, and as a junior he flashed so much potential, playing defensive end, tight end and quarterback, that Michigan and Brady Hoke offered him a scholarship. He made 49 tackles (13 for loss), seven sacks, three pass breakups and two forced fumbles in 2010, chosen for the all-district first team on defense.

Brown is relatively new to football, raw but athletically gifted. Sophomore year he was already 6-7, but weighed just 180 pounds.

photo: A 4-star prospect according to several of the major scouting services, Pharaoh looks for running room in a game last year (touchthebanner.blogspot.com photo).

Adding Brown gives the Ducks some much-needed depth at the tight end position behind new starter Colt Lyerla. With the graduation of David Paulson and Brandon Williams having to retire from football last August, position coach needed to build up his numbers. Brown, blessed with athletic ability and a big body, will challenge for immediate playing time. He could play a variety of positions, but tight end is a great fit for him in the Oregon offense. Oregon was fortunate to hang on to him despite overtures from Michigan and Ohio State.

Steadily his body is catching up to him. Now a solid 225, the Brush High product garnered 30 scholarship offers before verbally committing to the Wolverines in May. They liked him at defensive end, thinking he’d bulk up and get stronger, be an impact player on the edge.

But Brown attended some camps and clinics over the summer, running routes against some of the best defensive backs in the Midwest, hauling in passes from gifted quarterbacks who could deliver the ball. He decided he wanted to play offense more. Tight end.

Here’s a brief film of him working out at the Team USA Trials in July. Note the basketball skills with the ball in the air, the way he positions his body, uses his size and gathers the ball in like a big forward going to the hoop.

Settling on a position, he broke out senior year, catching a 21-yard touchdown pass against Madison, burning Normandy for 7 catches and 173 yards. In November, league coaches named him first team all-district again, this time at tight end.

He caught the attention of the Oregon coaches, who might have been thinking back to five years ago, when they recruited a tight end from Auburn, Washington, who played linebacker and quarterback for his high school team. His name was David Paulson.

Tom Osborne and Chip Kelly invited Brown out for a visit. Brown came out for the USC game, and loved it, wowed by the atmosphere, the coaches, and the crowd.

Trouble was, Michigan coach Brady Hoke has a no-visits-after-commitment policy. The Maize and Blue pulled his scholarship offer, no longer listing him as a commit.

And today Tom Osborne made a visit to Lyndhurst, to meet one-to-one with Pharaoh and his family.

Here’s some video of Brown as a junior, bullrushing the quarterback, and flinging passes from the spread. Note the aggressiveness and athletic confidence. With a still-maturing body, incredible physical tools, and a lot to learn as a football player, he projects as a remarkable, game-changing talent. Who’s going to guard him, once he learns the nuances of the tight end position from Osborne, a master tutor who’s groomed Ed Dickson and now Paulson?

Pharaoh makes instinctive, freakishly athletic plays in the video clip, blocking two punts, and batting a pass down at the line. He’s clearly not afraid of contact, running down quarterbacks and ball carriers and making some crunching tackles. With his basketball player’s hands, he’ll readily adapt to taking in the ball over the middle. It’s great to see how he plays tall and uses his length.

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