Now Brown is healthy and ready to chase the likes of Jake Kennedy, Zack Jenkins, Florence, Ben Zoeller, Aaron Huffman, Ryan Holmes and Greg Cornett — all starters in this century who rank among Wittenberg’s top-10 leading passers. Brown’s junior season starts at noon Saturday when Wittenberg plays No. 16 SUNY Cortland in Cortland, N.Y.
“We’ve got a lot of returners coming back,” Brown said Thursday. “We’ve got pretty much our whole O-line, three receivers, three of our running backs. Defensively, we’ve got a lot coming back, too. We have a lot of high expectations. We’ve just got to put it all together now. I think we have all the talent in the world.”
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Brown, a Mason High School graduate, threw 14 touchdown passes and five interceptions in seven appearances last season. He hurt his shoulder in the season opener, a 38-16 loss to Cortland at Edwards-Maurer Field in Springfield, and found out after the season he had a torn labrum.
Brown did not play in the second game of the season against Hiram and then returned to play against Denison but left that game with an injury after throwing two touchdown passes. Wittenberg led 16-0 when he left the game but lost 21-16.
Brown missed the next two games against Ohio Wesleyan and DePauw but played in the last five games. Wittenberg won each of those games by double digits. Brown threw 12 touchdown passes in the last four games, including two in a 35-14 victory at Wabash.
“It was just hard to get in a groove in the first half of the season when you’re on and off with injuries,” Brown said, “but in the second half of the season, we were kind of able to find it as an offense and as a team.”
Brown didn’t feel pain late in the season unless he took a hit to the shoulder. He said adrenaline helped him deal that during games.
After the season, Brown took several weeks off and felt fine when he returned to school from winter break. Then he started having issues again. This time he had an MRI and learned he had a torn labrum. Dr. Tim Kremchek, a Wittenberg grad who has treated many athletes from his alma mater over the years while serving as medical director for the Cincinnati Reds, performed the surgery.
Brown missed all of spring practices but picked up right where he left off last fall in the preseason practices. He had a 65-yard touchdown pass in a scrimmage against Muskingum.
“He’s been throwing a really nice ball,” first-year Wittenberg coach Jim Collins said. “His arm’s strong.”
Northmont graduate Miles Johnson, a transfer from Tiffin, and Max Milton competed with Brown for the starting job in the preseason, but Collins said Brown is the guy for the Tigers.
“The other guys are right there,” Collins said. “Against Muskingum, you didn’t see like a big drop off. You see a guy that’s got experience and command, but the other two guys are playing really well.”