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SUMMERS: Brown's legacy distinct

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East Carolina's Trevon Brown, left, makes a catch while being defended by Cincinnati's Marquese Taylor during their game on Nov. 18, 2017. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Monday, November 20, 2017

It's a juggling act.

Even the most magnificent looking football plays are filled with chance occurrences, unpredictable bounces and bodily collisions with uncertain outcomes. Mastering those fleeting moments of mass confusion is what makes highlight reels, creates superstars and glues masses of eyes to the games in the first place.

Although it was last place on the line on Saturday afternoon when American Athletic Conference East Division basement buddies East Carolina and Cincinnati took the field, the magic of living in the moment was maybe never greater.

With no postseason, no division title and not even a winning record left to serve as motivation, Trevon Brown and his now 3-8 Pirates kept doing the thing so many humans only wish they could.

The wide receiver, whose academic woes erased him from the team all of last season, continued to master the here and now. His latest chapter was another unforgettable one in what is becoming its own distinct legacy in an ECU era of stupefying receiver records that stand a chance of living a long time in NCAA lore.

Brown unleashed a school- and AAC-record 270 yards and two more dynamic touchdown catches in a 48-20 smashing of Cincy.

Gardner Minshew — the quarterback who has delivered all seven of Brown's touchdowns this season despite the Pirates using two passers on the year — stood halfway into his own end zone early in the third quarter.

Soon, the ball was in flight between the hashmarks and Brown had a step on Cincinnati cornerback Linden Stephens.

For a split second, the ball glanced off Brown's hands, separating itself from him and floating dangerously into the space where two Bearcats were converging on Brown and the ball.

But just as quickly as it was dangling out there, and as Stephens reached for it, Brown snatched it back and on sheer instinct pulled to his left. As usual, his legs did the rest.

He angled down the left sideline in a full sprint as he often does and his second 95-yard touchdown of the season was booked. The first one was an over-the-shoulder catch and footrace at West Virginia in which he left two Big 12 defensive backs in the dust.

His flair for the dramatic is what makes him different than former teammate Zay Jones and Justin Hardy, who currently sit at Nos. 1 and 2 on the NCAA career receptions list. Their legends were built on consistency and longevity, but only on a couple of occasions did either author long, spectacular scoring plays.

Brown is not the same player, but Brown is a better big-play receiver than either, and he now knows he will be back next year, able to cash in his previously unused redshirt to account for his lost 2016 campaign.

One thing the Wilmington native most certainly took from his predecessors is humility. Brown typically lets his astounding play do most of the talking.

What did he have working so well as to produce another record day for a team that would seem to be running out of room for new receiving standards?

“My teammates,” Brown said. “They believe in me and I believe in them.”

Soon, the landscape and everything else around Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium will be changed forever. In fact, when the 2018 season kicks off, there will be an under-construction feel as ECU's massive Southside Renovation Project begins in earnest.

Gone will be the blue collar feel the stadium maintained despite its few modernizations to this point. For at least one more year, though, the blue collar mentality of players like Brown still will be on display.

One update that is still likely a few years away will be a necessary addendum to the pregame video depicting footage of former ECU stars playing for the Pirates and then their respective NFL teams.

Brown will need to be edited into that video somewhere, and his juggling 95-yard gem against the Bearcats would be a great choice.

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com, 252-329-9595 and follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.

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