Local football star earns tryout with NFL’s Baltimore Ravens

Published 3:55 pm Thursday, May 7, 2015

As he watched the names of 256 other college athletes scroll across the screen during last weekend’s draft, former Isle of Wight Academy wide receiver Daniel Brown thought about how he wanted nothing more in life than to make it to the National Football League. Starting today, he’ll have his shot at earning a contract with the Baltimore Ravens during the team’s three-day rookie minicamp.

JMU receiver Daniel Brown makes his first career touchdown catch over the outstretched arms of North Carolina safety Tre Boston on Sept. 3, 2011. -- COURTESY

JMU receiver Daniel Brown makes his first career touchdown catch over the outstretched arms of North Carolina safety Tre Boston on Sept. 3, 2011. — COURTESY

As an undrafted free agent, the 6-foot-5, 227-pound senior from James Madison drew interest from the Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins, among others. Ultimately, he decided that Baltimore had the potential to be a great landing spot.

“According to [my agent], the other teams most interested were the Eagles and Dolphins, who I received calls from a couple weeks earlier,” Brown said. “In the end, the Ravens showed the most interest, and my agent felt that was the place where we would have the best opportunity to make a roster.”

Brown, a scholar athlete and computer information service major at JMU, caught 42 passes for 606 yards and seven touchdowns during his senior campaign. As a junior, he had 42 catches for 665 yards and eight touchdowns.

Among the highlight reels, Brown’s first career touchdown catch came in front of a crowd of more than 57,000 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2011. Late in the first half with the Dukes trailing the Tar Heels by three touchdowns, the redshirt freshman ran a post pattern past the safety for a 41-yard touchdown to cut into the lead. While Carolina would win the game going away, 42-10, it marked the first of 17 career touchdown receptions for Brown.

Ranked the 149th best receiver available prior to the draft by CBS Sports, and unranked by many other outlets, Brown understood that he wouldn’t likely be picked last weekend.

“Everyone hopes to get drafted,” he said. “I know I did. But my realistic outlook from the very beginning was UDFA or tryout. The draft is an unpredictable event, so who really knows?

“According to my agent, I caught the eye of a Ravens scout at my pro day. He even spoke to me afterwards for a little while, so I believe that’s where my opportunity for a tryout came from.”

The Ravens drafted a receiver with their first round pick and invited three others to this weekend’s minicamp, but Brown said it isn’t discouraging or that it diminishes his chances at making the roster.

“I need to do whatever is possible to get one of the last remaining contracts,” he said. “I am confident in my ability and I know I can do it. I was invited for a reason, just like the other guys, so I just have to stand out. It will require a lot of hard work and studying, but it is possible.

“Realistically, my best shot at making the team will be through special teams. They have said they like my size and athletic ability and could help on special teams. Then, once on the team, I can work my way into getting a shot at offense.”

Brown said that what truly separates him from the rest of the incoming receiving corps are his work ethic and accountability.

“I have always worked hard and have always done what has been asked of me by my coaches without hesitation,” he said, “and coaches have always been able to trust me to get the job done with those instructions.”

If he does impress the coaches enough to warrant a contract, Brown said that the Ravens would be getting a receiver who likens himself to Green Bay Packers All-Pro Jordy Nelson. And if he doesn’t make the roster, Brown said he’ll try to jumpstart his professional football career in another city.

“Right now, the only thing I’m worried about is making an NFL roster,” he said. “All I want to do is play football, and if one day it is no longer an option for me, then I’ll start making other plans.”

Come Sunday, the town of Windsor may just start making plans of their own to watch Ravens games on Sundays this fall.