Transfer WR Brown focused on leadership, adjusting to team
Published: Friday, September 16, 2011
Updated: Friday, September 16, 2011 01:09
In redshirt senior wide receiver Devon Brown's eyes, part of being a newcomer is working hard to establish a reputation as a leader and a dependable teammate.
Now in his fifth year of college football, Brown is caught in the predicament of being a newcomer and a veteran.
After two consecutive weeks of solid performances, the Wake Forest transfer still feels he has a long way to go before he solidifies himself as an offensive mainstay.
"To this point, I mean, yes, I am a veteran," Brown said. "(Redshirt senior wide receiver Brad Starks) and I (are) the two oldest guys out there. I don't feel like a freshman, but I still feel like the new guy."
Once upon a time, Brown was the new guy at Wake Forest.
After seeing limited playing time as a true freshman in 2008, Brown became the Demon Deacons' leading receiver in 2008 and 2009, accumulating nine touchdowns and 1,258 yards receiving during that span.
Brown is eligible to play for West Virginia due to the oft-mentioned NCAA rule that permits graduate students to transfer and keep a year of athletic eligibility if the new institution offers a post-graduate program that is not offered at the former school.
So what precisely has the efficient wide receiver developed during his travels that has prepared him for a breakout season?
"Just having a better feel for the game," he said. "When you're young, you're not quite as adjusted to the speed of the game; but after four years of experience, I think I've definitely adjusted, and that's helped a lot."
While the offense Brown ran at Wake Forest was somewhat similar to what the Mountaineers are operating now, he has taken on a new role that he never had the chance to develop.
"I never ran many deep routes at all when I was at Wake," Brown said. "Now, to have the opportunity to utilize my speed and everything else – and just open me up and be able to run freely – that's definitely helped a lot."
Last week, Brown recorded what he hopes was the first of many catches after running a deep route. The play resulted in a 55-yard reception – his longest since 2009.
In two games for the Mountaineers, Brown has forced opposing defenses to adjust en route to emerging as steadfast option at wide receiver. Through two games, Brown has raked in eight receptions for 151 yards and a touchdown.
"Through two games, I'm pleased thus far," Brown said of his individual performance. "We have two victories, and I feel like I've helped contribute to those victories. That's all I can ask for at this point."
Brown has been a primary target of junior quarterback Geno Smith through the first two games, and that doesn't figure to change this Saturday when the Mountaineers travel to Maryland.
While many view this game as having increased relevance compared to others on West Virginia's schedule, Brown has the same outlook as he did last week, which is the same outlook he will have for every opponent this season.
"Every game is just as important," Brown said. "With the goals we have as a team, we want to win every game, so we can't overlook a game or say one game is more important than (another)."
Despite the early success he has achieved this season, Brown has his gaze focused on developing a level of consistency that will help West Virginia continue doing what he sees as most important: win.
"I feel like I have to still earn my stripes, and do things the next few weeks and continue on throughout the whole season to stay consistent and do what I need to do to help the team win," he said. "Have a good game or not, I just want to come out with a victory."