Who is Florida quarterback Max Brown? What FSU football fans need to know about freshman

Two hours after Florida State football faced a crisis, rival Florida faced one as well last Saturday.

Just as the No. 4 Seminoles (11-0) lost quarterback Jordan Travis, the Gators (5-6) lost Graham Mertz to a season-ending surgery during a 33-31 loss to Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.

When FSU and UF face for the 67th time in the series, it will mark a unique game that will be a battle of the backups with redshirt junior Tate Rodemaker starting for the Seminoles and redshirt freshman Max Brown getting the nod for the Gators.

"I mean, to think about both sides, I can't recall that, whether that's something I've experienced in my career, but ultimately we don't -- the guys that step out on that field, offense, defense, special teams, that's what's going to be ahead of us," FSU head coach Mike Norvell said Monday if he had experienced anything like this before.

It'll be Rodemaker's second career start and the first one ever for Brown for a 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville. The "Battle of the Backups" will be broadcast on ESPN.

"That's what we do. I think we take -- every offense that you have evolves based on what the quarterback is really good at," UF head coach Billy Napier said. "And certainly Max is a little bit different type of player. They're kind of going from Jordan Travis to Rodemaker. We're going from Graham Mertz to Max Brown. There's an element of change for both teams. And certainly that's part of the strategy relative to the game."

Who is Florida backup QB Max Brown?

Florida Gators quarterback Max Brown (17) walks off the field during the second half against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, October 7, 2023. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun]
Florida Gators quarterback Max Brown (17) walks off the field during the second half against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, October 7, 2023. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun]

Brown is a redshirt freshman who did not appear in any games last year. He has attempted just 12 passes in his career. In relief of Mertz last week, he completed 4 of his 5 passes for 56 yards, adding 42 yards rushing.

One play in particular stood out for FSU defensive Adam Fuller when watching the tape of Brown.

"The third-and-3 keeper for 20-plus yards got my attention really quick," Fuller said Monday. "But when you’re a backup quarterback at this level you’ve got skill set. Maybe sometimes you just need an opportunity. Sometimes coaches play to the guys that they think are best. But sometimes it takes an injury or sometimes it takes somebody not playing well for that person to get that opportunity."

Fuller added that with limited tape available on Brown, the Seminoles could dig into his Hudl film to watch how he played in high school.

For his part, Brown did exactly what was needed and even put the Gators in position to win with a field goal, but the defense allowed Missouri to kick the game-winning field goal with five seconds left.

"He did some good things, was efficient with the ball, showed off athleticism and speed as a ball carrier," Norvell said. "It's a guy that's been in their system for a couple of years, and obviously he's getting his shot.

"As an offense that has really good playmakers, they've got probably the best receivers that we've gone against or a couple in that world. I think a couple of guys at LSU are pretty good, too. They're in that spectrum. But a couple of NFL running backs. They're big up front. It's an offense that you see that they've been doing a good job here these last four or five weeks putting points on the board."

A 6-foot-2, 200-pound prospect from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Brown played both football and baseball at Lincoln Christian High School.

He was rated as a 3-start prospect and the No. 35 QB in the 2022 recruiting cycle. He was also on Florida's baseball roster in 2023 but did not see any playing time.

Brown was named the Oklahoma District 3-3A MVP as a senior after leading his team to a 13-1 mark and finishing as the 3A state runner-up. During his senior season, he threw for 2,750 yards and 41 touchdowns, also picking up 1,343 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns.

"Max is a competitor. He's got a level of belief in himself," Napier said. "He's always been a very confident guy. And for the most part, I think we had the one ball exchange, the ball-handling issue. Outside of that, he did what he was supposed to do. And I think we changed gears a little bit there to try to help him out. And I think critical fourth-down throw into a tight window. And then he threw a nice ball on the outside on the double move. So first plays in there he throws a strike to Ricky on the naked.

"So he did a lot of good things. He's been working hard since the first day he's gotten here. He's improved. And I'll tell you, I think the players have -- he's got good connection and camaraderie with the players. So I think they see him every day. They know who he is and what he's capable of."


Who: No. 4 FSU (11-0) vs. Florida (5-6)

When/where: 7 p.m., Saturday, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville

TV/Radio: ESPN/94.9 FM

Live game updates:; @Ehsan_Kassim, @jackgwilliams and @JimHenryTALLY on X, formerly Twitter

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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Max Brown: What to know about UF backup QB starting vs. FSU football