By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
The X receiver position could well be East Carolina’s X factor this football season.
With the Pirates’ most covered receiver, senior Zay Jones, moving to the outside Z position for his final campaign, junior X Trevon Brown might just be the man who makes the biggest dent in defenses this season. Brown last year proved he was a dominant downfield threat in the pass game, and now has senior quarterback Philip Nelson slinging him the football.
It is no longer just about streaking past coverage on long throws, though he is clearly the Pirates’ top man for that job. Now, Brown said he wants to be a complete receiver.
“I became a deep threat last year, and now I want to take my game to the next level,” said Brown, adding that he has leaned on senior teammates like Davon Grayson and Jimmy Williams to help him. “I just want to be a person on this offense that if they’re not open, I’m the go-to guy.”
Brown knows where the team’s bread is buttered, and said he also expects to be the team’s go-to man when deep in enemy terrain.
“I feel like I’m the biggest red zone threat,” he said. “I love it when someone is in my grill and pressing me because I just feel like it puts me in a tight situation where, if the ball comes, I have to make the play. I just feel like I have a better chance on jump balls against (defenders) in this country. It takes my game to another level.”
To hear wide receivers coach Phil McGeoghan tell it, every player in his group is being trained to become the No. 1 man in his given role, but he also stresses it would very hard for a backup to unseat a starter.
He sees Brown as a player still able to grow and get better.
“With him, I’m trying to round out some of the rough edges, trying to make him a little more refined of a player,” said McGeoghan, who was the Miami Dolphins receivers coach last season. “He obviously has tremendous talent as everybody knows, but there are a lot of little details that go with being an elite player. He has aspirations of being a pro prospect and I know what that’s supposed to look like, so every day we strive to reach that goal.”
Brown said another motivation this offseason was to become a better practice player, despite his highlight reel catches and eight career touchdowns in games.
The Wilmington native said in the past he simply showed up in games and, at times, dominated them. This season, he hopes to dominate all of them.
“I came up in big games, made big catches but it was tough at practice,” Brown said. “When I got tired, I didn’t want to run the right route. It’s different in a game, with the adrenaline pumping, and you know you want to run the right route if you get the ball or not. So I’m trying to do it now at practice to get ready for games, so I can do it for four quarters.”
But there is more. Behind Brown, sophomore Terrell Green is also off to a flying start this August, meaning there could be a dangerous blur of Brown and Green in this year’s ECU attack.
An injury erased Green from the Pirates’ equation entirely last season, but a year has made a marked difference for the man set to start his junior season behind Brown at the X.
“The quarterbacks and receivers, we’re trying to bond, trying to jell,” the 6-foot-5 Green said after he led all Pirate pass-catchers with four receptions for 94 yards in the team’s first August scrimmage on Saturday. “As you start to get comfortable in the offense, you start to make big plays. I just have to make plays when they dial it up to me.”
The Pirates have a formidable foursome in the outside receiving lanes when adding in one of Jones’ backups in fellow senior Grayson who, like Jones, could be a major part of the pass game for a fourth consecutive season, but Grayson has been slowed by injury.
Green said a major addition to his game this season is a full understanding of the playbook including, he said, knowing the details of even the plays that do not involve him.
Contact Nathan Summers at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9595 or follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.