Raleek Brown's former coaches say it’s only a matter of time.
“The more USC turns Raleek loose, the happier they’re going to be,” said longtime Mater Dei football coach Bruce Rollinson, who coached Brown in high school. “I think the sky's the limit for that young man.”
Brown’s youth football coach, Mori Sue’sue, offers a similar assessment.
“In two years, I’ll be telling you I told you so. He’s the most electrifying kid in college football right now,” he said.
While it’s common for old coaches to talk up their former players, what’s striking about both Rollinson's and Sue’sue’s descriptions of Brown are how similar they are. Sue’sue worked with Brown in Stockton, California in middle school and early high school before the USC freshman transferred to Mater Dei in Orange County to play his junior and senior seasons under Rollinson.
Two different time periods. Same praise.
“You don’t teach that,” Rollinson said of Brown’s electrifying running style. “You just enjoy it.”
“He does stuff you can’t teach,” Sue’sue added.
Throughout every stage of his football career, Brown has been ahead of his peers. When he was 12, he dazzled at a USC elite football camp featuring some of the region’s top 10th-and 11th-graders. In his senior season in high school, Rollinson considered him already college ready.
“He did things at the high school level that make you think this is going to transform itself at the next level,” he said.
Brown rushed for 1,123 yards and 15 touchdowns in his last high school season for the undefeated CIF State champion Monarchs. He averaged 7.9 yards per carry.
And now he’s carving out a role as a true freshman at USC, a role that will most likely grow due to Travis Dye suffering a season-ending injury earlier this month against Colorado and Brown’s own health improving after an early season ankle injury.
In the Trojans’ 38-27 win over Notre Dame last week, Brown rushed for a 5-yard third quarter touchdown to extend USC’s lead to 24-7. He finished the game with two carries, two receptions and the TD.
USC will play Utah in the Pac-12 championship game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Friday. The Trojans fell to the Utes 43-42 back in October. While it's no guarantee, a win in the rematch would most likely earn Brown and the Trojans a spot in the College Football Playoff.
“There’s a reason why he’s in there as a true freshman and a reason why he’s in there at critical times,” Rollinson said. “It’s not just fluff, to keep him happy. They want him to make plays and do what he does, do special things.”
As the stakes get higher for USC, don’t be surprised to see Brown continue to stay on the field in key moments.
“I’ve spoken with Lincoln Riley multiple times and he was like me when he got Raleek,” Rollinson said. “His eyes lit up and a smile came across his face. He knows what a talent he is.”