Leading not new to Brown

By Danny Albers

Da’Ron Brown stepped into a leadership role when injuries plagued football’s offense.

Brown, redshirt senior wide receiver, has been playing wide receiver at NIU for four seasons. So, when fellow senior wide receiver Tommylee Lewis was ruled out for the rest of the season Sept. 23 with a lower body injury, Brown knew he had to maintain the focus among the receivers.

“We just kept working,” Brown said. “We kept doing our job and just trying to get better as a receiver group.”

On the field, Brown is known for his playmaking ability and dynamic speed. Those skills have allowed Brown to record 19 touchdowns throughout his career at NIU, 15 of those coming in the last two seasons.

Brown’s speed has allowed him to make those types of plays. This season, Brown is averaging 17.2 yards per reception. His longest play on the season was a 64-yard touchdown reception Nov. 11 in a 27-24 win over the Toledo Rockets.

“I think speed and catching are the strengths to my game,” Brown said. “Along with my playmaking ability.”

Wide receiver coach Thad Ward wouldn’t disagree. Ward mentored Brown to the 2013 All-MAC Second Team Offense last season. He expects a lot from his senior wide receiver to close out the season.

“I expect him to be 100 percent and go out and make plays on a weekly basis,” Ward said. “He needs to understand we’re going to get the ball out to our receivers, and I think he’s done a great job. I expect him and his receivers to be that group and just go out there and make plays.”

As a quarterback at Morgan Park High School in Chicago, Brown served as the team’s leader and racked up several accomplishments along the way. He was a first team All-City selection his last two years of high school. He set a record for the school rushing yards for a quarterback with 1,900 yards his junior year, leading him to the Old Spice Red Zone Player of the Year award as a junior.

His accomplishments netted him only two offers to play college football. His first one was from the Wyoming Cowboys. The other was from NIU.

“When I took my official visit here I enjoyed the experience with the team,” Brown said.

Brown is graduating with a degree in sociology, but he plans to take a chance at making it in the NFL.

“I just plan on getting out there,” Brown said. “I’m going to train hard at the combine and see if I can make it in the NFL.”