University of Miami

How a record-setting interception changed everything for Miami commit Jarvis Brownlee

Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt defends his play-calling

The Miami Hurricanes offense is struggling, but coach Mark Richt doesn't see issues with his play-calling. He addressed the offense's struggles ahead of a game against the Duke Blue Devils.
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The Miami Hurricanes offense is struggling, but coach Mark Richt doesn't see issues with his play-calling. He addressed the offense's struggles ahead of a game against the Duke Blue Devils.

There’s no one traditional way for cornerbacks to line up.

Some coaches want the No. 1 cornerback to shadow a specific receiver for the entire game. Others might have a specific corner who always lines up on the left and another always on the right.

Sometimes a coach will have a defensive back who prefers to play the short side of the field and another always line up where there’s more space.

Carol City has a something different it likes to do with Brownlee. The Chiefs’ No. 1 cornerback always lines up along the opponent’s sideline.

“I’ve got to get in the fight. I need the energy,” Brownlee said earlier this month. “Mostly every game I’ve gotten in a scuffle with somebody. I’d probably be jamming them up. He probably gets a little mad. You know how they get. They get a little heated.”

This is the sort of confidence a lockdown cornerback needs when playing for a potentially historically great team.

Only a three-star prospect in the rankings, Brownlee is the defensive anchor for Carol City, which has beaten opponents by an average of 42.6 points per game this season.

Once he rounded his skill set in to form in the spring, Brownlee became one of the fastest-rising prospects in Miami-Dade County and committed to the Miami Hurricanes in June, just about a week after the Hurricanes offered him a scholarship.

In the four months since he announced his pledge, Brownlee has made Miami look smart. Opponents haven’t tested Brownlee much and when they have they’ve seldom completed passes.

Carol City has only been scored on in three games this season and only once — in the Chiefs’ 39-17 win against Booker T. Washington on Thursday in Miami — has an opponent scored at least 17.

Brownlee didn’t always play with the kind of swagger some coaches want out of their corners, though. Before he caught the attention of Miami and about half a dozen other Power 5 Conference programs, Brownlee was mostly regarded as a prospect because of his massive wingspan and physicality. He had to learn how to use his physical gifts. He had to learn confidence.

“I’d say it started,” Brownlee said, “when I set that record on this field for that 108.”

Everyone knew about Mark Pope when he and Southridge headed to Nathaniel Traz-Powell Stadium last October to take on Carol City. Pope was a five-star wide receiver in the rankings. He was already committed to the Miami and had teams like the Florida Gators and Alabama Crimson Tide still hoping to flip him.

Jarvis Brownlee was not. It would’ve been hard to find the cornerback’s name high on most recruiting rankings throughout his junior season with the Chiefs, but Carol City still called upon him to cover Pope when the Spartans marched down to the goal line.

The Chiefs lined up in a cover 2 defense, and tasked Brownlee with covering the flat and the left side of the end zone. Pope ran to the back corner and Brownlee followed as Southridge’s quarterback tossed a jump ball to his blue-chip receiver.

The defensive back turned and beat Pope to the high point for the interception, spinning back toward the middle of the field as he landed. Suddenly, there was space and Brownlee took off. One hundred and eight yards later, Brownlee inserted himself into the Traz-Powell Stadium record books with the longest interception return in the stadium’s storied history.

“I think that was the turning point in his career,” Chiefs coach Benedict Hyppolite said. “For him to being able to take it and go 108 yards, doing the distance, a lot of people don’t do that in a lifetime. … That’s the boiling point for him.”

Brownlee didn’t even earn honorable mention all-county honors from the Miami Herald at season’s end. His ascent began in winter by simply getting in better shape. He added muscle to his previously wiry, lanky frame — that let his aggression play better. He got faster and more athlete — that let him keep up with elite wideouts on the spring 7-on-7 circuit.

Mostly, he just committed to the details, though. He emphasized his footwork, so he wouldn’t just have to rely on his physical gifts and natural recovery ability.

Before, Brownlee played like he knew he had flaws in his game. It’s all different now.

“I just think everything has caught up with him,” Hyppolite said. “I think just now that the physical appearance caught [up], he gained the confidence, mentally.”

Brownlee has stayed firm in his pledge with Miami since committing back in the spring. He said he’s down in Coral Gables every Sunday to watch the Hurricanes practice and he’s attended every Miami home game at Hard Rock Stadium this season.

While he won’t early enroll, Brownlee does play to sign his National Letter of Intent in December. He just wants to knock out a last couple of visits before then.

The senior is set to visit Florida International this weekend and then take another visit to Central Florida the weekend of Nov. 17. An additional unofficial visit with the Florida Gators is also possible, although he already officially visited Gainesville in August. The LSU Tigers also offered Brownlee on Thursday, although he hasn’t yet committed to a visit to Baton Rouge, La.

“Right now, I’m still 100 percent committed, but things can change in the future,” Brownlee said. “It’ll still be a tough decision I’ll have to go through and talk through with my family.”

Friday night (high)lights:

St. Thomas Aquinas put a running clock on Blanche Ely, which meant it was a good opportunity for Jason Munoz to get some work in the midst of an injury-riddled senior season. The three-star defensive end logged three tackles — all of which went for a loss — and recorded one of the Raiders’ seven sacks in a 56-0 rout Friday.

Avery Huff also got in on the action in Fort Lauderdale. The four-star outside linebacker, a classmate of Munoz’s, logged two tackles and one sack in limited action. St. Thomas Aquinas also recovered three fumbles as part of its defensive domination.

Donell Harris continues to put together an impressive sophomore campaign for Booker T. Washington. A five-star defensive end in the Class of 2021, Harris logged two tackles, both of which were sacks, in the Tornadoes 34-0 shutout of Orlando Evans on Friday. Booker T. Washington finished the game with 11 total sacks and two fumble recoveries.

Marcus Crowley wrapped up the regular season with another 100-yard effort in Jacksonville Trinity Christian Academy’s 52-10 blowout of Jacksonville Bishop Kenny. The three-star running back ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns on only 11 carries Friday in Jacksonville. The senior finished the regular season with 1,550 yards and 20 touchdowns on 151 carries.

Palm Beach Central took down Palm Beach Gardens, 31-14, on Friday behind another strong game from Bryan Robinson. A four-star wide receiver in the Class of 2020, Robinson caught five passes for a team-high 155 yards and a touchdown in the win.

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