Editor’s note: Every day, from now until Penn State football’s Class of 2017 reports to campus June 24, we’ll highlight a different one of the Nittany Lions’ 17 incoming signees. Today is Day 10 of the 17-day series.
Cameron Sullivan-Brown didn’t need to look at the schedule to know when he’d be going up against some of Maryland’s top high school football stars.
His good friend Everette Hammond would often be in his ear by August, building up those opposing defensive backs.
And from the start of his senior year in high school, all the 6-foot receiver would hear about was future Penn State teammate and hard-hitting Upper Marlboro defensive back Tariq Castro-Fields.
“He’s been hyping Tariq since ever since he saw the game on the schedule,” added Sullivan-Brown, an incoming freshman who’ll soon report for the Nittany Lions.
The three-star receiver studied the four-star defensive back. He couldn’t wait to test himself. The payoff? Sullivan-Brown put up two touchdowns against him one-on-one. His St. Vincent Pallotti high school eventually won the game, 55-48, en route to a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B conference championship.
Sullivan-Brown has never been one to back down from a challenge.
Instead of heading to a national high school powerhouse in Maryland, the incoming Penn State wideout enrolled at underdog St. Vincent Pallotti — and led it to two conference titles alongside his two best friends, James and Jaret Patterson.
Not only did fans of the 500-student school get treated to their first football title in 10 years, but football is now back on the map. Jaws dropped in the quiet hallways of St. Vincent Pallotti when an Alabama assistant visited. And Penn State coach James Franklin turned heads when he landed a helicopter on the football field last season.
“They definitely brought some pride back to the football program,” said athletic director Patrick Courtemanche, who often refers to Sullivan-Brown as a freak of nature. “We’ve got Division I schools walking through our hallways because of these kids.”
Said Sullivan-Brown: “It’s like a culture shock because nobody is kind of used to that of Pallotti. We’re changing things. Changing is scary sometimes — it’s also exciting.”
Sullivan-Brown’s father, Roderick, was even shocked by what the wideout was able to accomplish.
Against future Alabama commit Trevon Diggs. Sullivan-Brown stepped up — on both sides of the ball — with a couple interceptions and a touchdown during the 22-20 win. The performance even caught his father off-guard.
“After the game, I walked over to him and I’m like, ‘I’m sorry have we met? I didn’t know it was like that,’” Sullivan-Brown’s father, Roderick, said.
Sullivan-Brown’s response at the time: “They’re saying how good he is; I have to show them how good I am.”
Penn State caught an early glimpse of that confidence, that attitude, during a camp that receivers coach Josh Gattis still remembers. Every time Sullivan-Brown ran a rep, he sprinted over to the assistant coach — and just jawed with him to get his attention. “It’s just a little mind games you play,” Sullivan-Brown said, “an attitude that no one is going to stop me and that you’re going to make somebody notice you.”
Sullivan-Brown will soon take that approach to Happy Valley. Before, he embraced the spotlight and took his team to the title game. The stage has now changed — but the goal remains.
The wideout isn’t about to change his mind-set now.
“I embrace the pressure, and I like the new-found pressure Penn State has on its back,” he said, “the expectations of championships, Big Ten championships and national championships.”
Overview of Cameron Sullivan-Brown
Hometown/high school: Bowie, Md./St. Vincent Pallotti
Height/weight: 6-foot, 182 pounds
Position: Wide receiver
Recruit rankings: 3 stars (247, ESPN, Rivals, Scout)
Other scholarship offers: Boston College, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, N.C. State, Northwestern, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin
James Franklin says: “He’s a big, physical guy. Really good ball skills. What I love about him and all of our prospects is you watch his tape, not only does he make plays on the offensive side of the ball, but the defensive side of the ball.”