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Brown Appears to Be Built for Long Haul

Diamond Ranch senior has an NFL physique and may have an NFL future. For now he'll focus on his new position: tight end.

September 04, 2004|Martin Henderson | Times Staff Writer

Charles Brown passed the "look" test. The first time Tom Leach, the new coach at Pomona Diamond Ranch, saw Brown, he had that look.

You know the one.

"I haven't seen a guy like him," said Leach, an assistant last year at Huntington Beach Edison who has seen a lot of high school football players. "He looks like an NFL player."

This is no sad-sack Charlie Brown. He is 6 feet 6, 245 pounds and as hard as a skillet. His torso, an upside-down triangle, seems hand-chiseled by one of the masters. He could be a statue instead of a football player.

But Brown is a football player, and one sure to garner much attention this season. He is making the transition from offensive tackle to tight end, and if the summer meant anything, Brown could be gold.

"We went to the Edison passing tournament, and Fountain Valley changed their whole defense just to cover him," Leach said. "They triple-covered him and he was still catching balls."

The Edison tournament is one of the area's best, and the speed with which Diamond Ranch played attracted the attention of Los Alamitos Coach John Barnes, who invited the Panthers to play against his Griffins and Long Beach Poly. The Panthers, who finished 3-7 last season, held their own against Los Alamitos, a Division I semifinalist, and Poly, the runner-up.

Brown's transition gained momentum.

"I have a lot of confidence in myself," Brown said. "After we played Poly, I knew I could do it. They had a lot of good linebackers, some are ranked, and I did really good -- they couldn't even stop me.

"I want to prove to a lot of coaches that I can play tight end because that's what I want to play in college."

Leach doesn't doubt it.

"Right now, he's turning into a real good tight end," he said. "We know he's going to be able to block well because he played tackle, but as far as being an athlete and going for the ball, he's improving every day."

Brown has already made a commitment to USC, but Trojan Coach Pete Carroll would be wise not to get smug about it. Brown says he still has interest in UCLA, Oregon, Arizona and Arizona State.

"A recruiter told me that Charles can be a good tight end in college," Leach said, "but that he's going to the NFL as an offensive lineman."

Brown played tight end as a freshman but moved to tackle as a sophomore. He came into this season ranked fourth among the state's offensive linemen by Cal-Hi Sports.

And even though he will play in college wherever he must -- even on the offensive line -- he says he yearned for a return to a skill position.

"I want the ball sometimes," he said. "I don't just want to block all the time. I just want to try it out.

"My hands are getting way better. They started off kind of bad, but they're way better."

Although this might seem a grand experiment, Leach doesn't have a problem with it.

Brown is motivated to prove he can do it, and there are three seniors who are returning starters on the line: center Joel Gasca (5-11, 240), guard Jamen Sanders (5-9, 240) and tackle Andy Morales (6-3, 265), who will line up inside Brown.

With Matt Rodriguez (6-2, 245), a second tight end, on the other side, Diamond Ranch will run all its formations with the same personnel.

"Hopefully," Leach said, "we'll be able to pick our poison."

That would be a change for the Panthers, who last year seemed to founder on offense and now have their sixth head coach in the school's eight years.

Brown hopes to average five catches a game. He hasn't missed a day of optional workouts since Leach was hired in March.

"He's the hardest-working player on the team," Leach said. "He knows he's the high-profile guy and he's still willing to work and commit. He leads by example."



How They Rate

A look at the top tight ends in the Southland:


*--* Rk Name, School Ht. Wt. Yr. Comment 1 Ray Felger, Granada 6-4 215 Sr. Catches balls over the Hills middle 2 Joey Padilla, San Pedro 6-3 195 Jr. Dependable target 3 Kurt Thomas, Reseda 6-1 190 Sr. Three-year starter



*--* Rk Name, School Ht. Wt. Yr. Comment 1 Charles Brown, 6-6 245 Sr. Converted tackle is an Diamond Ranch immense talent 2 Erik Lorig, 6-4 255 Sr. Can block, catch, run Peninsula 3 Logan Paulsen, 6-5 225 Sr. Has made great improvement Chaminade 4 Darrion Jones, 6-3 220 Sr. Has 4.6 40-yard speed Lynwood 5 Michael Shelton, 6-4 220 Sr. Good athlete with speed Dominguez 6 Edward Dickson, 6-5 230 Sr. He shows that size, strength Bellflower matter 7 Jake Nelson, 6-3 225 Sr. Caught nine two-point Bell-Jeff conversions 8 Ray Navar, Rancho 6-5 235 Sr. Committed to UNLV Cucamonga 9 Trevor Mooney, 6-6 230 Jr. Impressive as a sophomore Trabuco Hills 10 Brian Salazar, 6-2 235 Sr. Should be an important target Monrovia 11 Lance Bordeleaux, 6-5 240 Sr. Three-year starter Royal 12 Justin Adair, 6-5 210 Sr. Likes to catch TD passes Gladstone 13 Steve Downs, 6-3 230 Sr. Team relies on his blocking Esperanza 14 Adam Goodman, Edison 6-1 205 Sr. Can make the tough catches


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