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Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Nebraska Football Film Study: Alante Brown’s Potential

June 27, 2021

Expectations were high for the group of wide receivers Nebraska signed in its 2020 recruiting class. The Huskers brought in five wideouts, four of which were 4-star prospects.

One of those 4-star recruits was Alante Brown, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound receiver from Chicago by way of St. Thomas More Prep in Connecticut, and Brown was the only wideout in the class who enrolled early.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out spring ball, robbing newcomers like Brown of the chance to get a head start on playing Division I football. Brown wasn’t able to earn a starting role and he wasn’t a significant part of Nebraska’s passing attack, but he did play in every game and showed some flashes of that talent that caught the Nebraska staff’s eyes.

Brown caught three passes for 41 yards and ran the ball once for. He also emerged as Nebraska’s kick returner, recording 196 yards on 10 returns. We’re going to focus on his offensive contributions here, however, to get a feel for what Brown might bring to the field if he’s able to earn a larger role now that he has a season under his belt.

Brown made his Husker debut—and his first reception—in Nebraska’s season-opener at Ohio State. He played 11 snaps in the game, seeing the field for Nebraska’s last three drives. His catch came right at the end.

Brown lined up as the sole receiver to the right of the formation on first-and-10 at the Nebraska 15-yard line.

Initially, Brown engaged with the linebacker near the line of scrimmage while the running back ran a wheel route out of the backfield. Eventually, the quarterback (Luke McCaffrey at this point in the game) escaped from the pocket to keep the play alive.

The linebacker got off Brown’s block and ran with the back to take that shot away, but Brown sat down where he was and provided a wide open check-down option for McCaffrey. McCaffrey hit him and Brown turned and worked his way up field, angling toward the middle.

Brown had already picked up a first down, but he wasn’t done yet. He showed some YAC ability too, planting his foot and making the oncoming defender miss.

Brown ran out of room shortly after that, but even then he fell forward as a handful of Buckeyes converged on him.

Brown’s first touch as a Husker went for 16 yards on a simple check-down that Brown turned into a nice gain with his speed.

Unfortunately, we have to fast-forward all the way to the season finale at Rutgers to see the next time Brown saw a football come his way. He caught two passes for 25 yards. The first was an attempted tunnel screen that was failed from the start as the Scarlet Knights had it well defended and the Nebraska blockers did not do their jobs well enough.

Whereas Brown only played garbage time in the season opener, he played 17 snaps sprinkled throughout the Rutgers game and his last catch mattered a lot more than his first.

On second-and-11 from the Rutgers 34-yard line, Brown lined up tight to the formation, inside of the hash marks next to the left tackle. Brown disappeared from the screen but appears to have run a corner route.

As Brown worked his way downfield, the offensive line held up and gave Adrian Martinez plenty of time and space to scan the field and let the play develop.

Martinez fired the ball downfield and dropped it right into Brown’s hands as he made a break towards the sideline at the top of his route.

Brown’s momentum carried him out of bounds just outside the 10-yard line.

The play went for 22 yards, and although we didn’t get to see Brown’s actual route-running, he showed enough speed to create the separation necessary for Martinez to hit him.

Brown’s speed will also serve him well on the ground. The last clip here is from the game at Iowa midway through the season. Brown didn’t draw any targets but he did get a touch on a cleverly designed play.

On second-and-5, Brown lined up to the boundary side. McCaffrey called Wan’Dale Robinson across in motion, and then after the snap he circled back behind.

McCaffrey faked the handoff to the running back while Robinson looped around as a decoy and Brown ran a reverse.

McCaffrey pitched the ball to Brown and then the wideout turned on the jets looking to turn the corner on the far side.

Travis Vokolek threw enough of a block to allow Brown to beat the nearest defender to the edge.

It looked like a Hawkeye defender was in position to cut Brown off, but he took a bad angle.

Brown ran past the diving tackle attempt, once again showing off his speed, and kept on running.

The momentum from avoiding the tackle carried him toward the sideline and he stepped out at the 19-yard line.

The play went for 18 yards and moved the Huskers into the red zone in a one-score game.

Brown didn’t get many chances to touch the ball in his first season in Lincoln, but when he did he made the most of them, showing off speed and good run-after-the-catch ability. He played all three wide receiver spots and the Huskers had him run deep routes as well as jet motions. He put some good blocking reps on tape as well.

Brown is one of a handful of talented yet unproven wideouts looking to earn more playing time in 2021. Based on the brief glimpses we got of him in 2020, he’s a big play waiting to happen and can bring a different dynamic to the field than more veteran players like Levi Falck and Oliver Martin.

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