Setting the Stage
Antonio Brown played football and ran track at Norland High School. Other notable alumni include Dwayne Bowe and Duke Johnson. Brown was a two-time state qualifier in the 100-meters and also anchored his school’s 4x100 relay team. He played running back, quarterback and wide receiver and was a two-time Class 6A all-state selection.
Following high school graduation, he applied to Florida State, but was denied based on academics. He attended one year at North Carolina Tech, a prep school. In 2007, he began attending Central Michigan as a walk-on player. He easily transitioned to full-time wide receiver and was granted a scholarship. As a freshman, he led the Mid-American Conference with 102 receptions for 1,003 yards and was named Freshman of the Year. His best year was as a junior when he caught 110 passes for 1,198 yards. He was also their kick-off and punt returner and was named All-America as a punt returner in 2008 and 2009. He scored 5 touchdowns on returns, 22 receiving, 4 rushing and passed for one.
Following his third season, he declared for the 2010 NFL Draft. At the combine, he measured 5’-10” and 185 pounds and he ran a 4.48 second 40-yard dash. He was drafted in the sixth round by Pittsburgh. He began his career almost exclusively being used as a returner, but even in his rookie season he earned playing time toward the end of the season. When he got the call, he answered it. In the final five games of his rookie season, he had 17 targets and caught 14 passes.
He played a lot more often in his second season and had his first 100-yard game in week seven against Arizona. The following week, he scored his first receiving touchdown and wound up with three games with over 100 receiving yards and another three with over 80. He missed three games with injuries in his third year and saw a slight decline in catches and yards, but scored more.