SAMMAMISH, Wash. – Max Browne’s last day of high school turned out to be even more than he was expecting. Way more.
The Skyline High School senior, and quarterback of the Spartans’ Class 4A state championship team, has completed his finals and will enroll at the University of Southern California for the spring semester. But Tuesday, he was called into a meeting where he was expecting to help counsel a teammate on making his college choice.
“Totally surprised,” Browne said after a mini-assembly where he was officially recognized before family, friends, teammates and coaches. “My coach called me out of class; I walk up the stairs and was thinking I’d be talking about one of my guys who was going to get a future offer. So in my head I was planning about what I was going to say to this kid.
“I walk in, I saw Russell, all the cameras, all my friends. I was like, ‘Oh, you guys got me.’ I was completely surprised. I had no idea. It was awesome.”
How big a surprise was it? Browne went through the ceremony wearing a State Championship T-shirt and gray shorts, because he wasn’t expecting the limelight to find him on this last day at Skyline.
But Browne’s selection as National Player of the Year shouldn’t come as a surprise, despite the stiffest of competition, because he was awesome during his senior season. He led the Spartans to a 14-0 record, capped by the victory in the state title game. He passed for 4,526 yards and 49 touchdowns while completing 277 of 377 passes and throwing only five interceptions.
During his career with the Spartans, Browne set the state record with 882 completions, which led to 12,947 yards.
But there’s more to Browne than just impressive stats and overwhelming victories. He has a 3.5 GPA and volunteers for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life and Generation Joy.
Sound familiar? Browne shared the stage on Tuesday with another QB who’s too good to be true – on and off the field.
“He’s just a tremendous person, first of all,” Wilson said. “He has a great attitude, a great personality. He works so hard. Max is a tremendous football player and Gatorade found the best football player in the country.
“Max does a tremendous job in the three pillars of what Gatorade does in terms of naming a National Player of the Year. Athletically, obviously he’s very good. But academically he’s carried a 3.5 his whole career in high school. And then to do what he does in the community, and put so many smiles on so many faces, is really unbelievable.”
Just like Wilson, Browne used his acceptance speech to thank his coaches. And his teammates. And his friends. But especially his parents, Mike and Cheryl. The term “proud parents” didn’t come close to describing them as they watched the youngest of their three sons cap his high school career by accepting the Gatorade award – and doing it with grace and humility.
“This couldn’t be any better. We can’t believe it. It’s awesome,” Cheryl Browne said. “He’s dreamt about this since he was a little boy. Since they opened this school in 1997, I don’t think Max has missed two games, maybe. He loves the Spartans.”
Max smiled when asked about his parent’s role in his life. “As long as I can remember, I was just kind of raised with the humble nature about me,” he said. “But I think I’ve just kind of noticed that people tend to like you a little bit more when you’re humble and all that stuff. So I try to look at it that way.”
And this is just the beginning of new adventures for Browne. In addition to stepping into the college lifestyle so he’ll be able to participate in spring ball for the Trojans, he’ll also attend a function in July in Hollywood where the National Male and Female Athletes of the Year will be selected from the 12 winners of the national honors in each sport. And, he’ll also attend the ESPY awards show.
“It’s crazy. It hasn’t really hit me yet,” Browne said of his high school career now being in the past tense. “I never thought I would be here. I always thought I’d stay in high school. And I loved it. It’s been a great 3½ years, both on and off the field.”
Wilson and Browne first met this summer at a Nike camp in Oregon. Not surprisingly, they hit it off.
“Just to be a part of Max’s life and what he’s done so far, I can’t wait to see what he does at USC and in terms of the National Football League once he makes it,” said Wilson, who was a Gatorade State Player of the Year in Virginia. “It was great to be a part of the Gatorade family, and to announce Max’s Gatorade National Player of the Year award. It’s really well-deserving.”