East Carolina fans awaiting Trevon Brown putting up a 270-yard receiving day or one of his other four 100-yard performances need not worry that he is off his game from a year ago.
While the senior wide receiver hasn’t connected for some of last year’s flashy triple-digit games – which included two 95-yard touchdown receptions, one against West Virginia and the other Cincinnati – he’s otherwise fulfilling expectations.
“I think he’s having a better year than he did last year,” Pirates coach Scottie Montgomery said in a conference call. “He’s more consistent in his route running and much more consistent in the run game (with his blocking). We can move him around a lot more than we did last year.”
Brown’s averages through four games are on par with his 2017 breakout season that earned second-team All-American Athletic Conference honors.
Last year he led the team with 60 catches for 1,069 yards with seven touchdowns. He averaged 17.8 yards a catch and 89.1 per game. He again leads the team this season in receptions (21) and yards (325). Over 12 games that projects to 63 catches and 975 yards. He’s averaging 15.5 per catch and 81.2 per game.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder will try to build on those numbers when ECU (2-2, 0-1 AAC East) returns to conference play against Temple (2-3, 1-0 AAC East) at noon Saturday in Philadelphia.
But even if he doesn’t yet hit triple-digits, the double-coverage he draws – and sometimes a third defender with a linebacker underneath and two defensive backs on top– has opened the field. Blake Proehl has 20 catchesfor 217 yards and Deondre Farrier 18 for 182. Two others in double digits are Terrell Green (13-112) and Tahj Deans (10-127).
“Because of that we’ve been able to throw for 300 yards and spread the ball around to a lot of receivers,” Montgomery said. “I think our quarterback is doing a better job spreading the ball around. We still want to strike with Trevon, but we’re finding other ways to the end zone.”
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Reid Herring has thrown for 309, 290, 253 and 309 yards in four games this year, but he has missed some open receivers. In a 20-13 loss at South Florida, ESPN analyst Ray Bently called out Herring for missing Brown twice for what would have been big gains.
But with mid-season here for the first-year starter, Herring’s growing experience might add triple-digits to Brown’s consistency.
For Brown to turn out reliable was far less predictable when he arrived on campus than he would harness his athleticism. Self-inflicted obstacles began with failing to meet NCAA academic requirements out of Wilmington’s New Hanover High. He missed the 2013 season.
His NCAA eligibility clock didn’t start until he was cleared to enroll in January 2014, but a month later campus police arrested him at Scott Hall dormitory for possession of a Schedule II Controlled Substance. The charges were dropped in a case the school has described as a misunderstanding over a prescription drug.
In the 2014 season, he played in eight games, with 14 catches for 264 yards and four touchdowns, but he missed five with a knee injury.
In 2015, he was suspended three games for violating team rules. He finished with 41 receptions for 494 yards and four touchdowns in nine games, seemingly setting himself up for a 2016 breakout, but that was put on hold until 2017.
In Montgomery’s first season, Brown was declared academically ineligible just before the 2016 season opener. He lacked enough credits for NCAA eligibility.
“Ever since I sat down with young man, I told him what I expected of him,” Montgomery said. “Sometimes when you lose football it’s good for you. He has focused on his responsibilities and his grades continue to climb. He’s graduating this semester. The maturation process has been great to watch.”