It was some weekend for Jake Browning, and he didn’t even handle a football.
Folsom High School’s record-breaking quarterback displayed unusual modesty by passing up meat-market combine-like evaluations in the Bay Area to appear at two events close to home.
Saturday, Browning joined football players from Oak Ridge and Del Oro to serve as escorts for teenagers with special needs at the Evening of Dreams, a red-carpet event that included dinner and dancing. It was a lifetime moment for all involved.
Sunday, Browning tossed a ceremonial first pitch at Raley Field as the Art Savage/River Cats regional Male Athlete of the Year. Monday, the Washington-bound junior and two-time Bee Player of the Year was still buzzing.
“It was great,” Browning said enthusiastically. “The Evening of Dreams was fun and it was good for perspective. And it wasn’t charity. It was important.”
Del Oro coach Casey Taylor said more than 100 of his players have participated in Evening of Dreams over five years. He encourages other schools to participate.
“It’s a very humbling experience for players because it gives them an idea of how good they have it, and it’s a great feeling to give back, to make someone feel special,” Taylor said. “Seeing Jake Browning there touched me. He gets it. He’s first class on and off the field.”
Browning, not one to chase accolades, chose the River Cats honor instead of participating in quarterback competitions in the Bay Area. He also prefers to compete in shoulder pads, not in shorts and a T-shirt.
“We have a lot of work to do with our own team, and if you let outside stuff take over, it can be too much,” Browning explained of bypassing such events in general. “I can understand why people want to do those events and that they’re great events, but it’s not for me. It’s the ‘Underwear Olympics.’ College coaches say the same thing. I knew I’d take some heat for not going, but it’s not like I’m shying away from competition. If someone wants to bring their team to take on ours, let’s do it. I’m not gun shy.”
Well, perhaps a little. Browning, having not played an inning of baseball in his life, didn’t want to throw his pitch into the Raley Field turf.
“I was hoping they didn’t have a softball ace go up there and rifle a shot, and then here comes some guy in me who’s supposed to know how to throw,” Browning said with a laugh. “I played it safe. I didn’t try to be Randy Johnson.”
He’s just Jake Browning, and that’s a lot.