LOS ANGELES – Daquawn Brown might find out here, the city in which he grew up, just how much growing up he’s done as a college football player two games into his career.
Brown’s collegiate debut came last week at Auburn, when he stepped in at cornerback after fifth-year seniors Nolan Washington and Anthony Carpenter each left the game with apparent injuries.
Neither of those two practiced this week, leading one to the logical conclusion that Brown, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound Los Angeles native and alum of famed Dorsey High School, may be about to make his first career start under the lights of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at 7:30 Saturday against Southern California.
To understand Brown’s style of play, you should listen to his teammates talk about him when asked how he might react if lined up against All-American USC receiver Marqise Lee. There’s no guarantee that those two will ever line up against each other, of course, but that didn’t stop linebackers Darryl Monroe and Justin Sagote from speculating about such a matchup when the question was posed.
“He’s going to give you guys a show,” Monroe said. “I’m taking Daquawn any day of the week. I’m expecting him to put on a show for you guys. I expect some frustration on Marqise Lee’s part, because he’s going to be in his face the whole game and he’s not going to stop. I feel bad for that guy if Daquawn’s lined up against him.”
“I would also feel bad for Marqise Lee,” said the soft-spoken Sagote. “(Brown)’s a fun guy to watch. The thing I see about him, he doesn’t fear anybody. He doesn’t care who he lines up against. He’ll go against anybody. That’s what I like about him.”
Fighting words? Ehh. Probably not. What is likely meant by the “feel bad for that guy” line is that Lee – or any USC receiver – could catch a few passes and rack up a few yards and still leave the game wishing Brown hadn’t been involved. He’s a demonstrative young man, always chirping and offering the celebratory flapping of his arms to signal “incomplete” whenever he breaks up a pass. He talks, he talks, and he talks, and has a pestering way about him that has earned the respect of his teammates.
Brown wasn’t made available to the media this week to discuss the possibility of making his first career start against a storied Pac-12 team in his hometown, but said early in camp that, “I thrive off my confidence during every play.”
Yeah, he does. Defensive coordinator Mike Breske has said more than once that Brown needs to polish his technique – that’s standard protocol for a freshman – but that his attitude can only help him.
“He’s not going to back down from anyone. He’s just got to refine his technique,” Breske said. “And that’s just going to come from reps and reps and reps.”
“Daquawn Brown is not afraid of anything,” coach Mike Leach said. “He’s really excited to play, thinks he should play every snap and just loves the challenge of competition. He’s going to be a really good player. For the time being we just need to improve him and see where he stacks up, and see whether he ought to start or whether he ought to play a significant role coming in behind a starter.”
Another freshman, safety Isaac Dotson from Bellevue, Wash., is also expected to play Saturday on either special teams or defense. If he does, he would become the third true freshman to see the field for the Cougars this season. The other is receiver River Cracraft.