It's in the heir
Sto-Rox's Paul Jones, left, and Seneca Valley's C.J. Brown could be the next great quarterbacks to come out of Western Pennsylvania.
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C.J. Brown and Paul Jones are both sons of quarterbacks, although neither kid played football until eighth or ninth grade.
Brown and Jones have turned into football stars, although both readily admit that a 100-yard lawn is not their favorite place to play. Both also excel in at least one other sport.
While the sports backgrounds of Brown and Jones are very similar, their futures also might be headed down the same path. In the game of Western Pennsylvania's top quarterbacks, they got next.
Brown, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior at Seneca Valley High School, is having a tremendous season. He made a verbal commitment to the University of Maryland in April, when Akron was the only other school that had offered a scholarship. But Brown has been so good this season that Pitt and Penn State have contacted him and told him if he changes his mind about Maryland, they would most certainly be interested.
• School: Sto-Rox.
• Year: Junior.
• Ht./Wt.: 6'3, 225
• Scholarships: Offers from Pitt, North Carolina State and Iowa.
• 2008 stats: Completed 80 of 121 passes for 1,297 yards with 18 touchdowns.
• School: Seneca Valley.
• Year: Senior.
• Ht./Wt.: 6'3, 190
• Scholarships: Will attend Maryland next year, but Pitt and Penn State are interested.
• 2008 stats: Completed 108 of 187 passes for 1,534 yards with 10 touchdowns.
Jones, meanwhile, is a 6-foot-3, 225-pound junior at Sto-Rox, who also has been impressive. He already has been offered scholarships by Pitt, North Carolina State and Iowa. Penn State also is showing plenty of interest.
Speak to their coaches, talk to opponents, listen to scouts and these two seem destined to enhance Western Pennsylvania's reputation as the cradle of quarterbacks. Brown graduates high school in 2009, Jones in 2010.
"I think C.J. Brown is really special. He's the real deal," said North Hills coach Jack McCurry, whose team played Seneca Valley last week.
McCurry has seen a few good quarterbacks in his 31 years as a head coach.
"Brown could be the next good one from here," McCurry said. "He's really that good."
Joe Butler has been running Metro Index Scouting in Pittsburgh for three decades.
"I think both C.J. Brown and Paul Jones are really good right now," Butler said. "We've obviously had a lot of good ones here, and they fit into that mold of a Western Pennsylvania quarterback who could really develop into good ones."
It is almost eerie how Brown and Jones have similar stories. They both run spread offenses.
Before becoming Seneca Valley's coach in 2004, Ron Butschle was Sto-Rox's coach. That's one of the reasons Brown and Jones worked out together a few times this summer at Seneca Valley.
Brown's father, Clark, played high school football in Michigan and was a two-year letterman at Michigan State, where he played quarterback. Jones' father, Paul Sr., was a talented high school quarterback in Louisiana.
Brown and Jones are proving you don't have to play football at 8 and 9 years old to be good in the sport. Besides one year of midget league football in sixth grade, when he was a running back, Brown didn't play football until ninth grade. That year, he and Matt Plautz split time at quarterback on the freshman team. Plautz is now Seneca Valley's leading receiver.
Jones didn't play football until seventh grade because his parents wouldn't let him. When he played for the first time, he was a lineman. He didn't move to quarterback until eighth grade.
Brown realizes his future is in football, but he admits basketball is his favorite sport. He averaged 12 points a game as a junior, made all-section and is projected to be one of the top players in WPIAL Class AAAA this season.
Want to know how athletic Brown is? He can do a 360-degree dunk in basketball. And he used to be a talented shortstop and center fielder in baseball until giving up the sport after eighth grade.
"Basketball has always been my favorite. That's just the way it is," Brown said. "I don't dislike football, but I've always liked basketball better."
Jones also knows football is his future, but that won't stop him from liking baseball and basketball better. He averaged 15 points a game in basketball last year and made all-section. Although he didn't play baseball as a sophomore, he plans to play again this year. As a freshman, he was a pitcher and third baseman.
"We only won four games that year, and I was the winning pitcher in every one," said Jones, the oldest of Paul Sr. and Jennifer Jones' six children.
Brown, a well-spoken youngster who has a 3.9 grade point average, said his father "is pretty much the reason I became a quarterback. He knew what he was talking about and showed me the ropes."
Brown leads the WPIAL in passing yardage with 1,534 (256 yards a game). He has completed 108 of 187 and thrown for 10 touchdowns. One of his biggest attributes is his mobility and quickness. He also is Seneca Valley's top rusher with 410 yards on 78 carries.
"C.J. needs to get a little stronger, but I think he has elevated himself this year into a top-of-the-line quarterback," Butler said.
When Butschle was at Sto-Rox, he coached Adam DiMichele, a three-sport star who went on to become Temple's starting quarterback.
"They're both great athletes, but I would say C.J. is more of the pure, drop-back quarterback," Butschle said.
DiMichele, the WPIAL's all-time passing yardage leader (6,741) wore No. 13 at Sto-Rox. Jones plans to wear the number next year. DiMichele's youngest brother, Nico, is a senior receiver at Sto-Rox and wears No. 13.
Jones, also a good student with a 3.2 grade point average, has masterfully directed coach Jason Ruscitto's offense and thrown for 3,147 yards and 38 touchdowns since his sophomore year. He is 80 of 121 for 1,297 yards and 18 touchdowns this season.
While Jones has four scholarship offers from Division I colleges, you can bet he will have many more by spring.
Brown has listened to overtures from Pitt and Penn State, and Colorado also is making a push.
"A couple of schools have said, 'Hey, if Maryland is not for you, we're here,' " Brown said. "I'm pretty happy with my decision. Right now, I'm going to Maryland."
First Published October 10, 2008 12:00 am