DeKALB – Northern Illinois senior wide receiver Da’Ron Brown wasn’t exactly thrilled when he was told he would move from wide receiver to quarterback for his junior year at Chicago’s Morgan Park High School.
“I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to move. I was just getting into the feel of being a receiver at that time. I was just getting that groove down, and coach decided he wanted me to move to quarterback,” Brown said. “It was a hard decision when you feel like you’re making those strides and improving, then you’ve got to switch.”
Morgan Park wanted the athletic Brown under center in its rushing offense, and Brown ran for 1,800 yards and 23 touchdowns his senior year.
At the same time, he feels he would have had more Division I offers out of high school – NIU and Wyoming were the only teams that offered him, had he stayed at receiver. He was a wideout at heart.
At the same time, Brown, who led the Mustangs to a playoff win his junior and senior years, doesn’t have any regrets.
“They accepted me as a leader. I accepted the role as well,” he said. “I don’t regret it at all.”
When he made the switch back to wideout after signing with NIU, Brown needed to become more of a crisp route runner, something he worked on during the offseason after catching 46 passes for 752 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013.
“I called him in, I said ‘you need to have a better summer, that’s really going to make or break where you’re going to be,’” NIU wide receivers coach Thad Ward said. “He put in the work, he went out there every day in the summer and did what you’re supposed to do, and he’s polished up his game and he’s catching the ball well. He’s looking fast, he’s in shape.
“So he’s been able to last throughout these whole 22 practices, which is different. A lot of times you have guys that pull up here, pull up here with injuries. But because he took care of his body, he looks good.”
As a senior, Brown is hoping to catch 60-plus balls and have 1,000 yards receiving. He’s part of a talented wide receivers corps which includes players like senior Tommylee Lewis, junior Juwan Brescacin and sophomores Aregeros Turner and Chad Beebe.
“He brings that versatility,” Ward said. “To, where again, going back to putting in that work and becoming that guy who can be not just a speed guy but a guy that can run intermediate routes and a guy we can hand the ball off to.”