Two years ago, Nick Brown had never played quarterback. The Hampshire native sprouted from about 5-foot-7 to 6-foot-1 as an eighth grader.
He grew up playing running back and fullback. With the added height came a position switch.
“I like to lead the team,” Brown said. “I like being in control of things. I trust myself to make the right decisions.”
Now a 6-4, 190-pound sophomore, Brown is on his way across the country to pursue his quarterback dream. Stuck behind two seniors on the Hampshire depth chart, Brown announced Monday that he’s transferring to The Taft School, a private boarding school in Watertown, Connecticut.
Brown, 15, saw an uptick in recruiting interest after raising some eyebrows at a Rivals camp in St. Louis in May. He doesn’t have any college offers as of now, but Brown said he has been in contact with a number of FBS Division I programs.
The opportunity at Taft came about quickly. Brown said his family first heard from the school about two weeks ago.
“It’s like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Brown said. “The academics there are second-to-none, and so are the athletics.”
Monday marked the first official day of football practice in Illinois. Hampshire seniors Jackson Milison and Ben Curran are battling for the starting quarterback position. Brown said the Whip-Purs coaching staff had been having him practice more at defensive back and receiver, in addition to taking QB reps behind the two seniors.
Hampshire head coach Jake Brosman did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
At Taft, Brown will have a chance to compete for the starting QB job. He leaves Aug. 28 for camp and begins classes Sept. 5.
For about a year and a half, Brown has worked with Greg Holcomb at Next Level Athletix Quarterback Training. Holcomb said that when he first started working with Brown, the QB was “super raw.”
“Quite honestly, he really just flourished,” Holcomb said. “He took off. He did a great job. He’s got a lot of athletic ability and tools. So when he started throwing the football, he was good at it.”
Holcomb has been training quarterbacks since 2009 and has had athletes go on to numerous D-I programs. Nazareth junior QB J.J. McCarthy, who is committed to Michigan, works with Holcomb.
Holcomb said Brown hadn’t yet developed many bad habits when they first started training together because Brown was so new to the position.
“He has high-level, Division I ability,” Holcomb said of Brown. “He’s not J.J. McCarthy-caliber now, but he just started playing quarterback.”
Taft has produced numerous Division I football players, including current Duke starting QB Quentin Harris. Nolan Grooms, who started for Taft the past three years, is now a freshman quarterback at Yale.
Current senior receiver Diante Vines is committed to play at Iowa.
“I feel like it’s a whole different kind of ball out there,” Brown said. “There’s going to be a lot of skill out there, speed, size.”