USC, Bama recruits find common ground

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- When Max Browne and Cooper Bateman met for the first time, they talked about the future.

They were at the Elite 11 regional in Oakland, Calif., and they couldn't help but laugh. Even though it was their first encounter, they had been linked for months, ever since it was announced in March that Browne and his Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline teammates would travel to play Bateman and Murray (Utah) Cottonwood during the 2012 high school football season.

"Everyone says it's Bateman versus Browne, Cottonwood versus Skyline," Browne said. "We're both laid-back guys and great quarterbacks, obviously. It was fun just to joke around."

From the moment that Sept. 7 game was announced, both quarterbacks understood it would surround their summers as they followed each other from that Elite 11 regional to The Opening to the Elite 11 finals and, eventually, the game itself.

Interaction is inevitable when two highly touted prospects who play the same position end up at the same events. There is a natural competition between the athletes, but as much they want to prove they belong among the top quarterbacks in the country, there is a mutual respect that comes when two people share circumstances.

For Mason Kelley's full story from The Opening, click here.