Florida Gators quarterback Graham Mertz suffered a season-ending collarbone injury in the Gators’ loss against Missouri, leading Florida to turn to Max Brown under center.
Who is this newfound quarterback? Is he capable of giving the Gators enough to earn an upset win over the Florida State Seminoles, who are also dealing with a quarterback injury?
Who Is Max Brown? Is He Ready?
The sophomore quarterback did flash some playmaking ability and came close to leading the Gators to an upset bid over the ninth-ranked Missouri Tigers last weekend.
Brown finished four-of-five passing for 56 yards, with 42 rushing yards on seven carries. While he didn’t score a touchdown, Brown orchestrated two scoring drives against Missouri and would have had three if it weren’t for a fumble on the Missouri 15-yard line.
Florida ran a lot of option looks with Brown, taking advantage of his rushing ability, and it opened up lanes for Florida’s running backs as well. It was a different style of attack than what Missouri likely prepped for, given the difference between Mertz and Brown.
Florida head coach Billy Napier said postgame he was proud of how Brown handled playing on the road against a top-10 team in the country. Moving forward, Napier said the team would adjust to his strengths and rally around him.
It was impressive how Florida adjusted their game plan mid-game to accommodate Brown. The Gators trotted out different option runs, veers, and rollouts to use Brown’s mobility to gain an advantage.
Max Brown’s Journey to Florida
Brown wasn’t a highly-touted recruit out of high school. Coming out of Lincoln High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Brown was the 96th-ranked quarterback in the 2022 class according to 247sports Composite Rankings.
The Tulsa native led Lincoln Christian High School to a 13-1 record and 3A state runner-up finish in 2021. Brown earned Oklahoma District 3-3A MVP after throwing 2,750 yards and 41 passing touchdowns during his senior season. Brown also ran for 1,343 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns.
Originally committed to Central Michigan under former Florida head coach Jim McElwain, Brown flipped in January of 2022 to come to Florida shortly after Billy Napier was hired. After redshirting behind Anthony Richardson last season, Brown earned the backup job behind Graham Mertz this season.
Brown’s work ethic has been praised by the Florida coaching staff throughout the season and offseason, a testimony of why they trusted him to deliver in such a critical situation against Missouri. Brown has the tools to be an effective player at quarterback, but the Gators will find out just how potent their attack will be against a tough Florida State squad this week.