Eastern Washington officially announced on Tuesday that it has agreed to play the University of Washington in Seattle in its 2011 season-opening football games. We have links to related stories below, along with an unedited version of the feature story on EWU's Brynsen Brown that will appear in Wednesday morning' s S-R.
For more information on the UW-EWU football game that will kick off the 2011 season for both schools, you can read what the Associated Press published here, the release that was issued by UW's sports information department here, and EWU's official press release here.
And here is the feature story on the Eagles' wideout-turned-defensive end Brynsen Brown:
BROWN SETTLES IN AT NEW POSITION
These were, after all, the mean, snarling nasties the Eagles’ senior wide receiver had been practicing against for the past four years.
These were, as it turned out, Brynsen Brown’s kind of guys.
“As soon as our players saw him walk through the door, they all got excited,” Ryan Sawyer, Eastern’s defensive line coach, recalled of Brown’s surprise arrival. “They were all clapping and high-fiving him, because they knew his mentality and personality would fit in with theirs.”
Prior to his big entrance, Brown had been called into the office of EWU’s second-year head coach Beau Baldwin to discuss the possibility of a position change. The Eagles were awash in talented receivers, but Sawyer’s defensive line, while strong in numbers, was woefully weak in experience.
“I’ve always been more of an aggressive type who really likes contact,” said the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Brown, who caught 50 passes for 733 yards and four touchdowns for the Eagles last fall. “So when Coach Baldwin asked me how I felt about changing to defense – defensive end, in particular – I said, ‘Let’s give it a shot.’
“As long as the coaches felt it could help the team and help us win, I didn’t have any problem with it.”
It helped, too, that Brown had been a two-way starter and all-league performer at wideout and defensive end at
“When we first recruited him, we looked at the possibility of him playing defensive end here,”
Brown’s position change was hastened by an infected cut in his hand that limited his effectiveness during fall camp and cost him his starting spot at wide receiver. As a backup in Eastern’s first two games, Brown caught just four passes.
And a week later he became part of the regular rotation on the Eagles’ defensive front, celebrating his new role as a speed rusher with a bruising post-pitch hit on
“That was a lot of fun,” Brown said of the hit that seemed to validate his return to defense. “I felt like some people might have been against my position change and wondering if it was the right move, and that play kind of showed them it was.”
According to Sawyer, Brown’s transition to defense has been relatively seamless.
“At first, I think Brynsen was a little nervous about it,” Sawyer said. “But I think it was the right fit for him. He had kind of a defensive mentality – he has a Mohawk (haircut), he knows how to by physical and he’s a grinder who will give you everything he has on every play.
“He’s still learning the basics of being a speed rusher, but as he gets more opportunities in games and sees himself having success coming off the edge, he’s going to be a combination of strength and speed that Big Sky teams don’t know about.”
But Brown, who hopes to camp out in Weber State’s backfield when the 21st-ranked Wildcats (2-3 overall, 2-1 in the Big Sky) invade Woodward Stadium for Saturday afternoon’s 12:35 showdown against the 14th-ranked Eagles (4-1, 3-0), admits he still has a lot to learn about defense.
“It was a tough change,” he explained. “I was stuck the first couple of practices just staring off into space wondering what was going on. And even two weeks ago, I couldn’t tell you where the tight end was lining up – left or right.
“It’s been frustrating at times, just because of me thinking I was going to come in and know everything right off the bat, be the best right off the bat and have the same kind of career at defense end that I had at receiver. But that’s not the case at all. I’ve had to start fresh and learn everything new.”
Brown now wishes he had started his college career on defense – even if his new position is not quite as glamorous as his old one, from which he caught 11 touchdown passes in three seasons as a starter.
“I do miss the end zone,” he admitted, “but that should work as a little incentive. I guess I’ve just got to intercept a pass or pick up a fumble and find it again.”