By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
NASHVILLE — Former College of the Canyons and Oklahoma University star wide receiver Marquise Brown has been selected by the Baltimore Ravens with 25th pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Brown, who attended COC in 2016 before earning a full scholarship and playing two seasons at Oklahoma University, was the first wide receiver selected during Thursday night's opening round.
The Ravens started the evening in the No. 22 spot but executed a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles to move back three spots to No. 25. Moments later Brown, one of 22 players who was in attendance for the event, received word from Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta that he would be the team's pick.
"We were very excited to get Marquise when he was there," DeCosta was quoted as saying in an article posted to the Ravens official website on Thursday. "He was obviously the best player that we had available at the time. It just made all the sense in the world to take him."
Brown's behind-the-scenes phone conversation with DeCosta was captured by NFL network cameras, with the young receiver seen tearing up as the news sunk in that he would be fulfilling a lifelong dream by entering the NFL.
After making his way to the stage and posing with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Brown went on to give a series of emotional post-selection interviews about what the special moment in his career.
"I mean, three years ago, I had no food, I had no offers, I had nothing," Brown was quoted as saying by BaltimoreRavens.com staff writer Clifton Brown. "I was out there working at Six Flags working my tail off just to pay for my rent and for school. So, that moment just was surreal. People were always telling me what I can't do, so for me to get drafted in the first round, it just means a lot to me."
Back in Santa Clarita, the COC football program hosted a viewing party for the team's current roster of players. When Brown's name was called the room erupted in cheers and celebration.
Brown was the first of three former community college student-athletes selected in the draft's first round. During his time as a student-athlete at College of the Canyons Brown worked as a ride operator at the nearby Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park.
The Hollywood, Florida native — who also goes by the moniker "Hollywood" — played a single season with the Cougars highlighted by 12 total touchdowns (10 receiving, one kick return and one punt return) and 1,341 all-purpose yards in 10 games. He finished his freshman year at COC with a team-high 50 receptions for 754 receiving yards, good for an average of 15.1 yards per catch. At season's end he was named a Southern California Football Association (SCFA) All-Conference First-Team selection.
The speedy and ultra-talented receiver then took his talents to Norman, OK where he had the opportunity to catch passes from back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray and helped the Sooners win two Big 12 championships and make consecutive trips to the College Football Playoff in 2017 and again a season ago. He finished his junior season at Oklahoma with 1,318 yards on 75 catches to go with 10 touchdowns.
Brown was joined in Nashville by COC head coach Ted Iacenda, who was invited to attend the draft ceremonies as a guest to the wide receiver that wasn't widely recruited out of high school before turning heads for the Cougars.
"I'm truly humbled and honored that Marquise has invited me to take part in this magical moment," said Iacenda upon arriving in Nashville on Wednesday. "Our entire program is thrilled to be able watch him continue his journey at the next level, and I have a feeling the best is yet to come."
On Thursday Iacenda echoed that sentiment on Twitter in sharing a video clip of Brown receiving his life-changing phone call from the Ravens.
"This young man is so special," Iacenda tweeted. "Truly humbled to be included in this amazing moment. It's a memory I will cherish forever."
While the COC football program has a long history of seeing its former players move on to the professional ranks, Brown is the first former Cougar to be drafted since tight end Mychal Rivera was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the sixth round of the 2013 draft.
Other former Cougars who have heard their name called on draft day include current Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (COC 2007), 13-year veteran defensive tackle Domata Peko (COC 2002-03) who played with the Denver Broncos last season and is currently a free agent, retired defensive lineman Isaac Sopoaga (COC 1999-00) and retired running back J.J. Arrington (2001-02).
Pierre-Paul was selected by the New York Giants with the No. 15 overall pick in 2010. The San Francisco 49ers took Sopoaga in the fourth round in 2004, and the Cincinnati Bengals picked Peko in the fourth round in 2006. Arrington went 44th overall in the second round to the Arizona Cardinals in 2005.
Former Cougars Justin Tryon (NY Giants), Troy Nolan (Houston Texans) and Joey LaRocque (Chicago Bears) who all played on the program's 2004 National Championship Team are also included on that list of draftees.
Additionally, a number of former Cougars have gone on to sign NFL free agent contracts after not being drafted by a franchise. Included on that list is New York Jets wide receiver/ kick returner Tim White (COC 2012 & 2014) and veteran journeyman offensive lineman Caylin Hauptmann (COC 2009) who went on to win Super Bowl rings with both the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots as a practice squad player
White, who worn the same No. 6 jersey at COC as Brown did, also started his pro career with Ravens after signing a free agent contract with the team in 2017.
Stay up to date on all this season's action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
—Photo by Jim Bloomfield/COC Sports Information