Baron Browning is a five-star linebacker and, in his mind, a first-class prankster.

“That’s the kind of guy I am,” the early-enrollee Ohio State Buckeye said Wednesday during National Signing Day interviews. “I like cracking jokes and having fun.”

So after he decided to commit to Ohio State over Alabama on Dec. 1, he thought he’d have little fun at Buckeye coach Urban Meyer’s expense. He texted Meyer and then-assistant coach Luke Fickell, ‘Thank you for everything you’ve done, but I’m rolling with the Tide.”

Meyer said he was at a friend’s home when he got the message. He was devastated.

“I took my phone and threw it against the wall,” Meyer recalled. “I sit down, and all of a sudden I hear it buzzing again over there. I look and it’s his father.”

His father set Meyer straight, telling him that Baron was indeed coming to Ohio State.

Video: Meyer, Browning exchange pranks

“He said, ‘No, he’s just playing around,’” Meyer said. “So he got me good.”

Meyer sought payback. When Los Angeles Rams coach Jeff Fisher was fired, Meyer saw his opportunity. Browning’s mother is an assistant principal at his school, and Meyer plotted with her. She summoned Baron out of class and put him on speakerphone with Meyer.

“I said, ‘Baron, I’ve got some tough news for you, but I’ve taken this (Rams) job,’” Meyer recalled.

“And you just hear quiet. And I go, ‘Hey, man, you all right?’ Just quiet, quiet. I said, ‘I’m just kidding, man.’ His mom said he was crying.”

Browning knew he’d been had.

“I guess I had it coming,” he said. “I haven’t messed with him too much after that.”

Brabinowitz@dispatch.com
@brdispatch