Notre Dame WR Equanimeous St. Brown a viral sensation

Al Lesar
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND – Didn’t take long for Equanimeous St. Brown to go viral Sunday night.

By halftime of the Notre Dame football team’s loss to Texas, the 6-foot-5, 205-pound sophomore receiver was already an Internet sensation. A Tribune photo of his somersault into the end zone had been shared all over the world.

No big deal. Since then, he says he’s watched the play only about 10 times, and that’s been with a critical eye to figure out what he could do better heading into Saturday’s home debut against Nevada.

“I didn’t realize what I did at the moment,” said St. Brown. “I thought I actually just fell in the end zone. I didn’t really know. I think (the athletic flip) was just my reaction.”

If he wants to make an impact, keep those reactions coming. In his first game as Notre Dame’s starting “W” receiver, playing on the wide side of the field, St. Brown lived up to expectations by catching five passes for 75 yards, two of which – from 13 and 30 yards – were for touchdowns.

Just like man does not live by bread alone, receivers aren’t one-trick ponies. Catching passes is not everything there is to their game.

“What (St. Brown) did for us is make the catches that we asked the ‘W’ receive to make,” said Irish head coach Brian Kelly. “He's a guy who is going to be in a position to make some plays for us, when called upon. He made the catches necessary.

“There is still some work in his game. We want him to be an effective run-blocker as well. He's got to continue to work in that area. He's a part of what we do offensively.

“It's not going to revolve around him, but he gained some great confidence in his first game. It's what we recruited him for: A long, athletic kid that can make plays for us at that ‘W’ position.”

“You need to know your assignments better, give more effort; technique,” St. Brown said of the challenge of run-blocking. “I could have done better blocking-wise. A lot of people could have improved to win the game.”

Maybe it’s the sophomore in him. Maybe he’s just not comfortable in front of a gaggle of media. Whatever the case, St. Brown comes off as a fellow more at ease going into traffic to snag a high hard one than having his life story recorded for posterity.

It’s really a pretty good story.

His dad, John Brown (the St. was added for effect), was a world-class weightlifter winning several titles. Equanimeous, who speaks English, German and French, is at home in the weight room, but is more lean than muscle-bound. He grew up in Anaheim, Calif., but his dad would take him and his two younger brothers to his hometown of Compton to toughen them up.

“It was really just football,” Equanimeous said, downplaying the cultural impact of the trek to the inner city. “Nothing really extreme. It was a different environment but it wasn’t crazy.”

Relegated primarily to special teams last year, St. Brown’s biggest impact was felt against Southern Cal when he blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown. He was lost for the second half of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.

“There’s not much difference between this year and last year,” St. Brown said. “I’m more focused (this year), playing a bigger role on the team. I’ve gotta step up more. I understood the game pretty well last year.

“The game isn’t really that different (this year), whether you’re playing special teams or offense. It’s still football. It’s going to be hard. Just do your best.”

Besides Torii Hunter, Jr., St. Brown is the big fish in the Notre Dame receiving corps this season. With Hunter out for the Nevada game because of a concussion Sunday, it could likely amp up the attention St. Brown gets from the Wolf Pack defense.

“That just means other guys have to step up,” St. Brown said.

Other guys … as in him.

Another opportunity to go viral.

Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (6) scored two touchdowns against Texas in his first career start. (Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)