On Campus: Northern Illinois’ Da’Ron Brown (Morgan Park) named to Biletnikoff Award Watch List
By Mike Walsh For Sun-Times Media August 15, 2014 8:46PM
Da’Ron Brown, of Northern Illinois | Supplied photo
Updated: September 18, 2014 6:39AM
While quarterback Jordan Lynch has graduated and moved on to the NFL, the 2014 version of Northern Illinois’ offense is far from being devoid of talent.
Among the returnees helping ease the loss of Lynch is redshirt senior wide receiver Da’Ron Brown.
The Morgan Park graduate, a three-year starter for Northern, played in 13 games last season. Brown was second on the Huskies in receptions (46) and yards per catch (16.3). The 6-foot, 196-pounder led Northern in receiving yards (752) and receiving touchdowns (9), and was named to the All-Mid-American Conference Second Team.
“This is my last year and I have to step into a leadership role,” Brown said. “I have to take it one step further this year. I have to be more vocal, but also lead by my actions as well.
“I feel I have to lead more so by my actions, but I also have to become more vocal and become more of a teacher. I have to help the younger guys with the playbook and teach them how to line up for their routes, notice coverages and things like that.
“I have a good knowledge of the game and I have speed and playmaking ability. I want to be a reliable football player and reliable teammate. I want to be accountable and know my assignments.”
Brown is one of 55 athletes named to the 2014 Biletnikoff Award Watch List as announced by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation. The Biletnikoff Award annually recognizes the outstanding receiver in college football. Any player who catches a pass is eligible for the award.
“It’s an honor to be named to the list,” Brown said. “But winning the award would be better.
“I just have to put in more work if I want to win it. Being nominated is a nice thing, but winning it is the real goal.
“I didn’t expect to be nominated, and I was shocked when I saw it. One of my teammates sent me a text and then I looked it up myself. To win this award, you have to work on routes, releases and catching balls. You have to work on everything every day. You have to work hard to be an all-around receiver.”
In 2013, Brown recorded the best game of his career Nov. 13 in a 48-27 victory over visiting Ball State, a game in which he totaled eight catches for 209 yards and two TDs.
However, that took place with Lynch at the helm. Still, Brown is confident he and the Huskies will be just fine on offense this season as they adapt to a new quarterback.
“That’s been going great,” Brown said. “The quarterbacks have been around for some time now and I’ve been building relationships with them.
“I’m just waiting for them to step in and make their mark.”
Working at Wesleyan
The Southland had its share of athletes who received letters and accolades as members of Illinois Wesleyan’s sports teams.
In baseball, junior pitcher Pat Domke (Lockport) was honored, as were sophomore infielder Jack Troike (Lincoln-Way North) and sophomore pitcher Don Truesdale (Andrew).
In men’s golf, Providence graduate Gabe Aprati was one of four Titans named to the Division III PING All-Central Region Team. Aprati, a junior, also was the medalist in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin championships.
Also earning letters in men’s golf were senior Austin Craig (Sandburg), junior Evan Berna (Providence) and sophomore Tim Tynan (Fenwick), an Orland Park resident.
In women’s softball, senior catcher Sara Daley (Lockport) was one of five Titans chosen to the All-CCIW First Team. The Homer Glen resident led the conference with a .511 on-base percentage and tied for the league lead with five doubles. Also earning a letter was freshman infielder Katie Caulfield (Marist).
In men’s lacrosse, freshman midfielder Cody Gountounas (Sandburg) was chosen the team’s Most Improved Player.
Also earning letters were senior Neil Lancaster (Marian Catholic) and freshmen Carl McCauley (Lincoln-Way East), Tyler Rauwolf (Sandburg) and Tim Smith (Lincoln-Way East).
Receiving letters in women’s swimming were senior Stephanie Manikas (Lockport) and freshman Alicia Tebo (Andrew).
In women’s track and field, junior Kelli Herlitz (T.F. South) earned a letter, as did Lansing resident Morgan Ransom.
Garnering a letter in men’s track and field was senior Mark Malatt (Marist).