Brown back healthy and ready to contribute

During Saturday’s team scrimmage, one Indiana cornerback graded better than the rest

It was Andre Brown, a somewhat forgotten man at his position after injuries robbed him of the last season and a half.

But the redshirt sophomore is healthy now — and it’s showing on the field.

“He’s a great press corner, very physical and good,” senior Rashard Fant said. “He can hold his own. Just him being back adds to the strength of our corner group and secondary.”

Indeed, IU’s corner play seems to have stabilized after several rocky seasons. The growth of Fant into an All-Big Ten standout and the emergence of sophomore A’Shon Riggins, among others, went a long way last season toward helping the Hoosiers fix a secondary that had been woefully inconsistent throughout much of former coach Kevin Wilson’s six-year tenure.

Brown authored several moments as a freshman in 2015 that illustrated that he, too, could become part of the fix.

Most notably, he made a game-saving stop on a two-point conversion attempt in the final seconds of a 48-47 win over Southern Illinois in that season’s opening contest. He started eight games that fall, appearing in nine altogether, and finished with 35 tackles, a fumble recovery and four pass breakups.

Indiana coaches believe Brown is positioned to deliver further production this season.

“He’s been doing really great,” IU corners coach Brandon Shelby said. “He’s back healthy again. In our scrimmage (Saturday), he graded out best of all of them, and so I’m expecting big things from him.”

No one has higher expectations than Brown, himself.

Brown appeared to be on course to continue his development last season until an injury forced him to take a medical redshirt. At last year’s Big Ten media day, former IU linebacker Marcus Oliver named Brown as a potential breakout player.

That was not to be.

This fall, Brown wants to make up for lost time.

Indiana can never have too many able-bodied corners, as last year’s Foster Farms Bowl demonstrated. The Hoosiers played only two corners for the duration of that game — Fant and Tyler Green — due to a concussion suffered by Riggins.

The reports from this month’s camp suggest that Brown is pushing for playing time through his consistent play in the defensive backfield.

And It appears that Brown is about to get the time he has yearned for.

“I’m very excited to be able to play under Coach (Tom) Allen,” Brown said. “I got a chance to play with him in the spring and I love the defense. I love the tempo and how everybody flies to the ball, and the love each other mentality we have with each other.”

Although he couldn’t play last season, Brown said he benefitted from studying the game from the sidelines and on film.

He credits his teammates for keeping his spirits elevated while he waited in the background. Now, Brown is ready to step forward once again.

“He’s definitely coming on,” Fant said. “You see the confidence back. He’s happy to be back. He’s been waiting for his moment — this moment — to come.”

One comment

  1. Brown may cause the team to move Riggins behind Fant the way the depth chart has him. It didn’t make a lot of sense at the time but with Brown’s emergence it is clearer that IU is working to use players abilities the best way they can. I am looking for IU’s secondary to make another step up this season and become one of the best in the B1G.

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