Blackman High School (Tenn.) standout receiver Justin Brown is a late riser in the recruiting process. The 6'1", 185lbs pass-catcher did not pick up his first offer until late October, but he now has the attention of multiple programs. He details his recruitment here with Sports Illustrated.
"It started off slow," Brown said of his recruitment. "I was injured last summer, so I couldn't really go to camps. I came back the first game and did good, with three touchdowns and 150 yards, and I just kind of took off from there. Now, I am getting noticed by colleges."
Brown hears from a handful of schools including, "Penn State, Tennessee, Northwestern, Vanderbilt and Coastal Carolina."
The in-state Vols have shown Brown he is important to their future.
"They definitely see that I am an important fit for their offense," he said of the message from Josh Heupel's staff. "Their offense is very similar to my school, so I feel like I could fit in there very well. Their offense is very high-paced, and we run it like that at our school, so it does kind of help."
Brown has communicated with wide receivers coach Kodi Burns and offensive coordinator Alex Golesh the most to this point.
"They are cool people," Brown said of the Vols' offensive coaches. "They always check in on me too. Just really how they are bringing that family orientation into their program, I can see that and how they are bringing it to their program and relate it to me on how I can fit in there as a part of their family."
Josh Heupel stopped by Blackman High School last week once the contact period to check in on Brown through his high school coaches.
"It was definitely a cool experience (for him to check in on me)," Brown said. "He is a cool dude. We have been able to talk on the phone in the past. He told me a little bit about himself, and I told him a little bit about myself. We made a little connection and got closer. I definitely want to go to their school in the future and talk more."
So does it help the Vols to have the home state connection with Brown?
"Most definitely," he said. "It is my home state, so it is special to have an offer from them, plus if I was to go there, my parents would be able to come and see me and watch me play a lot easier, so that is special."
The Nittany Lions are certainly working to make an impression on Brown as well.
"They really like how I can bring all different types of things to their offense," he said of the message from James Franklin's program. "They like my route running overall. I feel like they really like that I can run any different type of route and really just my versatility."
Brown can see a potential fit in the Nittany Lions offense if he was to end up in Happy Valley.
"They definitely pass a good amount, and they have put a lot of receivers in the NFL," he said. "I feel like putting receivers into the next level is one of the things they are best at. So, if I were to go there, I think I could be the next receiver they put in the league."
Brown is building a strong relationship with the coaching staff and will look to build on that later in the month.
"I talk to Coach Slim and Coach Seider a lot," he said. "It is definitely great. They always check up on me and see how I am doing. They want me to come up there on the 29th, so I am probably going to go up there and check it out."
Brown is new to the recruiting process, but he knows what he is looking for in a school.
"One is really just education—the education part of the school and seeing how good it is," he said of this. "I want to go into business, so to see how good their business program is. Then just seeing how I fit into the school. I want to see how their school can make me better and how I can make their school better."
Brown is just going to take the process in stride and see where it ends up.
"Really just trying to slowly take it in," he said of a timeline. "I am not looking towards any particular school or when I am going to commit. I am just really taking it in and then going through summer to see how everything goes."