For four seasons, San Diego State fans got to see wide receiver Vincent Brown burn Mountain West Conference defensive backs and catch highlight-reel touchdown passes at Qualcomm Stadium as an Aztec.
Next year, they can still catch Brown in action at Qualcomm — but he won’t be donning the Red and Black.
Brown was selected with the 82nd overall pick by the San Diego Chargers in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He combined with fellow wideout DeMarco Sampson (taken in the seventh round by the Arizona Cardinals) to become the only Aztecs drafted this year.
“To me, it couldn’t get any better than this,” Brown said, wearing a navy blue Chargers polo and a beaming grin. “I was hoping through the whole process, if I could just stay in San Diego, that type of thing, it couldn’t get any better to me and this is definitely the ideal position for me to be in.”
“It took me probably about five minutes to get here, not long at all,” the former SDSU receiver added. “Hard to get lost on the way up here.”
When Brown first got the call from the Chargers, he was sitting in the kitchen of his girlfriend’s house. Surrounded by a multitude of family and friends, a giddy Brown kept the news a secret until it was announced live on ESPN.
“I tried to keep it hush hush a little bit and not let everyone know,” he said. “I was just excited and couldn’t stop smiling … Everybody started looking at me and they knew I was excited and they were like, ‘Who is it?’ They called my name on the TV and the whole room just went crazy from there.”
Last year, Brown led the Mountain West in receptions (69) and receiving yards (1,352, fourth-most in SDSU history) and ranked sixth nationally in receiving yards per game (104).
In his career at San Diego State, he caught 209 passes for 3,110 yards and 23 touchdowns. He leaves Montezuma Mesa third in career receiving yards and receptions, and fifth in career receiving touchdowns. Brown was also on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List in each of his final two seasons.
As happy as Brown is to stay in San Diego, the Chargers are equally as ecstatic to get the versatile receiver.
“He’s a route runner, great hands, good quickness inside,” Chargers Director of Player Personnel Jimmy Raye said. “He played outside, he played in the slot, and like I said he’s been productive through his whole career. He played big against big people, he always made the plays when his number was called, and we think his skill set translates well to the National Football League.”
Although Sampson had to wait a little bit longer than Brown to get his name called, the Arizona Cardinals felt he was worth the wait.
With superstar receiver Larry Fitzgerald entering the final year of his contract, and Steve Breaston and Early Doucet currently free agents, head coach Ken Whisenhunt didn’t hesitate to nab Sampson with the Cardinals’ last draft pick.
“I think that there’s some questions with our receivers as far as who knows what’s coming, where we’re going to have enough guys,” Whisenhunt said at a post-draft press conference. “And when you’re thinking about trying to get your roster ready for camp or for competition, when you’ve got a guy that you think can compete for a spot and play and you got an opportunity to get him, especially where we did, that’s really what the major consideration was.”
Last year, Sampson was a first-team All-MWC selection and an honorable mention All-American by SI.com. He ranked second in the conference in receptions and receiving yards behind Brown, and ended the season with 67 catches for 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns.
“He played in an offense that I think prepared him well and he made some good plays for (San Diego State),” Whisenhunt said. “That was pretty impressive and I think when you’re in the NFL and it’s become such a more pass-oriented league, then the more of those type of guys you can get, it certainly gives you a better chance.”