Proven winner, Brown, looks to improve

Alex Nye

Sophomore quarterback Shaye Brown walks into the library just after 11 a.m. on a cold April morning. He sits down still wearing a bulky coat and a backward hat. His big headphones sit on his temples, just above his ears, and he slides his phone into his sweatpants pocket. His long blonde hair peaks out from behind the backward brim of his hat.

re-TimShaye_Anthony
Sophomore quarterback Shaye Brown played in 10 games for NMU in 2014, throwing for 2,610 yards, 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Brown apologizes for being late, owing it to the fact that he just woke up.

“Normally we have practice today but it was cancelled so I slept in,” Brown said with a slight laugh.

The library is nearly empty, just a few students getting ahead on homework before the weekend begins. Brown plans (on going to back bed) within the hour to catch up on sleep from all of the early morning practices.

Brown is entering his third year on the football team after a full starting season last fall. As a true freshman, he was thrown into the starting role when a couple injuries occurred and continued as the starter in his sophomore season.

Brown lead the ‘Cats in passing, throwing 2,610 yards with 15 touchdowns and a completion percentage of 55.6, only tallying three wins last season.

Losing is not something Brown is used to.

Born in Flint, Mich., Brown moved to Linden, Mich. when his mom, Julie, relocated for a new job. It wasn’t until eighth grade that Brown decided to play football.

“I actually played offensive line that year,” Brown said, “but made the shift to quarterback my freshman year of high school.”

This was a smart move as Brown started for Linden his junior and senior year and led them to a district championship during his career.

“It was the first district championship in our school’s history,” Brown said. “It was a good feeling.”

After his senior season with Linden, he suited up and played in the high school football Michigan All-star game and was recruited by four schools in the state.

“Wayne State, Hillsdale, Northwood and NMU were the only ones recruiting me,” Brown said. “Wayne State was the frontrunner and they just said ‘no, off with ya,’ right at the end and then Northern came out of nowhere in December or January and they offered me a scholarship and I took it.”

Head coach Chris Ostrowsky was heavily involved in recruiting Brown to NMU.

“Brown’s physical stature is what was appealing,” Ostrowsky said. “He is 6 feet 4 inches, has a big arm and I thought there were some intangibles. I thought he had a competitiveness in high school that we liked.”

After meeting with both Ostrowsky and defensive coordinator Joe Ballard, Brown knew he wanted to become a Wildcat.

“It is such an awesome community,” Brown said. “It is a gorgeous place to live and I like how friendly the people that live here are.”

With spring practice in full swing, Brown and the rest of the football team are hard at work improving on last season.

Brown is up at 5:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and is in meetings by 6 a.m.

The meetings last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour where players watch film, look at previous performances and study plays. Practice follows, where they run through conditioning and perfecting the playbook.

Brown wears a red quarterback jersey on the practice field in a sea of green and white clad football players.

He is hard to miss, not only from the jersey distinction but his towering height and confidence in what he is doing on the field.

Hip-hop music blasts from the sound system of the Superior Dome as the ‘Cats offense runs through plays.

When the second team offense heads on the field, Brown can be seen on the sidelines dancing to the music. However, on the field, Brown is strictly business.

“It was definitely a humbling season last year,” Brown said. “We didn’t do so well but I learned a lot from it personally. As a team we have gotten a lot better. I can just tell in spring practice.”

Ostrowsky also sees progress in the team and in his quarterback.

“From year two to year three, his decision making becomes more comfortable with the offense and the game slows down for him,” Ostrowsky said. “The game will start to slow down in his mind, which I think it is, and he will evolve to become a better leader, and every day this spring he is growing into that role.”

Senior offensive lineman Kyle Steuck is also aware of Brown’s progressions with the team.

After playing alongside three other quarterbacks before Brown, Steuck believes in Brown’s ability to take the competition head on and his desire to win.

“I love knowing I have a quarterback behind me that has those qualities and competitive drive,” Steuck said.

After Brown was thrown into the offense his freshman year and a full season last fall he now understands what it takes to compete at the collegiate level.

“I think it was my mentality going in,” Brown said. “I thought you could just drop back and throw it and you are good. But you have to take a mentality into it, and I don’t think I had that, but I do now.”